Steam trains planned for island railway

STEAM TRAINS are planned for use on Isle of Wight railway services, which are included in the first group of British Rail lines scheduled for privatisation, writes Martin Whitfield.

A consortium of local business interests is keen to use steam services as a tourist attraction on the line between Ryde and Shanklin. At present, BR uses former London Underground trains.

The line is to be sold as a complete unit, unlike mainland services which are to be split between a track and signalling authority and a franchised operator.

Regular services would be be likely to use modern units similar to those running on the Manchester metro, according to the consortium, which groups the island's existing bus, train and ferry interests. The consortium is keen to take over control before the 1994 tourist season. A key factor in its bid will be gaining an assurance that Ryde Pier, which carries the line to Pier Head station, is not likely to need large-scale repairs.

The Isle of Wight already has a steam railway running that links the BR service at Smallbrook Junction to Haven Street.

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