|British Rail Class 483|
A pair of Island Line Class 483s in London Underground livery entering the Ryde tunnel.
The extensively refurbished interior of an Island Line Class 483 EMU.
|In service||1938-1988 on London Underground|
1989-present on Island Line
|Number in service||4 trainsets|
|Formation||2 cars per trainset|
|Capacity||84 seats (2 car set)|
|Train length||2 coaches|
|Car length||52 ft 3 3⁄4 in (15.94 m)|
|Maximum speed||45 mph (72 km/h)|
|Weight||55 t (54 long tons; 61 short tons) each 2 car set.|
|Power output||500 kW (670 hp) total power per 2 car set.|
|Electric system(s)||630 V DC 3rd rail|
|Current collection method||Contact shoe|
|Multiple working||Within class|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge|
The British Rail Class 483 electric multiple units were originally built as 1938 tube stock units for London Underground. They were extensively refurbished between 1989 and 1992 by Eastleigh Works, for use on services on the Isle of Wight's Island Line. This was despite having already worked for nearly 50 years on the London Underground. The units replaced the even older and life-expired British Rail Classes 485 and 486 units, which were introduced in 1967, but were originally built as 'Standard' stock units for the London Electric Railway in 1923.
The stock is 81 years old and still in service as of 2019, making it the oldest type in Great Britain to remain in regular service. It is scheduled to be replaced by Class 484s from 2020.
Prior to Isle of Wight service
The trains were originally built by Metro-Cammell as 1938 tube stock for London Underground. An initial batch was withdrawn from service in 1973, and they were considered for use on the Island Line (which would not bear that name for another 16 years). However, the under-floor equipment was thought to be a problem, as extensive adaptations would be needed to Ryde Works to allow fitters to access it. It was also felt that the under-floor equipment would be vulnerable to salt water damage on Ryde Pier, especially in bad weather.
The last batch of 1938 stock was withdrawn in 1985, except for five trains required on the Northern line between 1986 and May 1988 due to increasing passenger numbers. In 1987, Network SouthEast (NSE) managers realised that the existing 1923-built Class 485 trains would not be economically serviceable beyond around 1990 and thoughts turned to the future of the line. After closure of the route was discounted, it was decided to purchase and refurbish 1938 stock.
In April 1988, London Underground offered a total of 28 carriages in revenue-earning condition to NSE, joined by three further carriages in May 1989. In addition, between May 1988 and October 1990, four scrap vehicles and nine works vehicles, to be used for spare parts, were taken from LU's Ruislip depot. While the project's feasibility study suggested that three-car units would be preferred, it was thought that the alterations required to Ryde depot would be both difficult and expensive. It was instead decided that two-car units would be used, using a maximum of six coaches in any train formation. Of the 31 coaches available, 20 were selected for use on the island. These were extensively refurbished between 1989 and 1992 by Eastleigh Works to ready them for service on the line.
As well as cosmetic and structural work, significant electrical works were required both to replace dilapidated wiring, and to allow the trains to work from the line's third rail electrical supply.
Eight two-car units were initially refurbished between 1989 and 1990. These units were numbered 483001-008, although only the final three digits were carried on the cab ends. Units were painted in the new Network SouthEast livery, of blue with red and white stripes. The first unit was tested on the South West Main Line between Basingstoke and Eastleigh before travelling to Fratton ready for its transfer to the island. Testing and crew training on the remaining units took place on the Portsmouth Direct Line and Shepperton Branch Line.
On the island
The first unit, 001, arrived on the Isle of Wight on 5 July 1989 following an overnight ferry crossing from Portsmouth to Fishbourne. It was delivered by road to Sandown, then hauled to Ryde depot by one of the existing passenger trains. It began test running on the Island Line in the evening of 6 July, before a public launch on 13 July. Regular passenger services using the Class 483 did not commence until October, while the last of the eight planned units did not enter service until July 1990.
While it was originally planned to use only eight units, in 1992—two years after the rest of the fleet had entered service—the ninth unit, numbered 009, was also refurbished and transported to the island. A 10th unit was also shipped to Ryde depot, although this was for spares only and was never used in passenger operation on the Island. This unit was unofficially given the unit number 483010.
Each unit was formed of two driving motor vehicles, numbered 121–129 and 221–229. The technical description of this formation was DMSO(A)+DMSO(B).
When the units were first introduced, the final digit of the unit number and the final digit of the carriage numbers corresponded, such that unit 001 was formed of vehicles 121 and 221. However, since then, a few rearrangements have taken place to the unit formations.
In 1996, with the privatisation of British Rail, the Ryde–Shanklin line became the Island Line franchise, which was won by the Stagecoach Group. Services continued to be branded as Island Line Trains. In the late 1990s several units were withdrawn from service as surplus to requirements. From 2000 onwards, the remaining units were overhauled, and most repainted into a new livery of blue and yellow, with pictures of dinosaurs. Two units, nos. 007 and 009, were later repainted into their original London Transport red livery, (albeit with yellow warning panels on the cab rather than the original red), and during 2007-2008, the rest of the fleet was painted into this livery.
According to an article in the October 2005 issue of Rail Professional magazine, at that time Island Line was paying "an eye-watering £140,000 a year" to lease the trains, meaning that "[s]ince privatisation, HSBC Rail has pocketed over £1m for leasing these relics that are effectively worthless." In March 2007, South West Trains purchased the rolling stock outright from the leasing company HSBC Rail for £1.
Further that year, the Island Line franchise was amalgamated with South West Trains as part of the new South Western franchise.
The Class 483 trains were last refurbished during 2007; work on the six-vehicle fleet included:
- an exterior repaint into London Transport maroon with cream window pillars
- a retrim of the seat moquette into the same moquette that the London Underground A60/62 Surface Stock received during their refurbishment between 1993–98
When South Western Railway took over the franchise in 2017, the trains received a fresh coat of paint, and currently bear its logo, along with 'Island Line' written on the side.
In September 2019, South Western Railway announced that because of a "safety issue", the trains' age and increasing difficulty of getting spare parts, only one of the units was able to run, which meant cancelling just under half of scheduled services by running only an hourly service on the Island Line for around a month. A few days later, it was announced that the Class 483s would be replaced by five two car Class 484s from 2020.
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Four of the nine units remain in service, the majority of the others having been taken out of service in the late 1990s.
|Unit No.||Vehicle Nos.||Delivered to LPTB||Livery||Status||Notes|
|483001||121||ex-10184||225||ex-11142||19 Aug 1939||27 Feb 1939||Network SouthEast||Scrapped||Scrapped at Ryde St John's Road, June 2006.|
|483002||122||ex-10221||222||ex-11221||13 Nov 1939||13 Nov 1939||London Transport Red||Stored||Stored at Ryde St John's Road since 2008 as a source of spare parts.|
|483003||123||ex-10116||221||ex-11184||10 Jan 1939||19 Aug 1939||Network SouthEast||Scrapped||Previously stored in a siding near Ryde St John's Road as a source of spare parts. Scrapped in April 2000.|
|483004||124||ex-10205||224||ex-11205||10 Oct 1939||10 Oct 1939||London Transport Red||In service|
|483005||125||ex-10142||223||ex-11116||27 Feb 1939||10 Jan 1939||Network SouthEast||Scrapped||Scrapped at Ryde St John's Road, April 2000.|
|483006||126||ex-10297||226||ex-11297||1 July 1940||1 July 1940||London Transport Red||In service|
|483007||127||ex-10291||227||ex-11291||17 Jun 1940||17 Jun 1940||London Transport Red||In service|
|483008||128||ex-10255||228||ex-11255||26 Feb 1940||26 Feb 1940||London Transport Red||In service|
|483009||129||ex-10289||229||ex-11289||10 Jun 1940||10 Jun 1940||London Transport Red||Stored||Stored at Ryde St John's Road since 2019 as a source of spare parts.|
|(483010)||-||ex-10139||-||ex-11172||20 Feb 1939||13 Jul 1939||Blue undercoat||Scrapped||Most of 483010 was gutted out at Ryde St John's Road for spare parts in 2001. The unit has since been scrapped.|
Island Line No. 008 arrives at Ryde Pier Head, wearing the currently used livery based on that of London Transport.
Class 483 unit No. 001 on display at Ryde depot in 1989, shortly after transfer to the Isle of Wight. It carries British Rail's Network SouthEast livery.
Island Line Class 483 No. 007 departs Smallbrook Junction, with a service bound for Ryde Pier Head.
Island Line Class 483 No. 008 arrives at Shanklin.
- Hardy 2003, p. 38.
- Hardy 2003, p. 60.
- Hardy 2003, p. 62.
- Hardy 2003, pp. 64-65.
- Hardy 2003, p. 65.
- The Old Order Changeth on the Isle of Wight The Railway Magazine issue 1061 September 1989 page 563
- Hardy 2003, p. 66.
- Hardy 2003, p. 92.
- Hardy 2003, p. 68.
- Island Line heritage unit set to launch Rail issue 443 4 September 2002 page 54
- Isle of Wight repaints 1938 Tube stock Rail issue 584 30 January 2008 page 10
- Randall, Chris (October 2005). "The Rail Professional Interview: Haydn Abbott - Angel Trains" (PDF). Rail Professional (103): 17. ISSN 1476-2196. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 November 2008. Retrieved 6 November 2009.
- "'Wagons Roll' Towards Island Line Independence". Island Pulse. 28 March 2007. Archived from the original on 23 December 2007. Retrieved 18 September 2007.
- Sally Perry (13 September 2019). "Island Line halve number of trains until further notice". On The Wight. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
- "National Rail Enquiries - Service Alteration Details". 17 September 2019. Archived from the original on 1 October 2019. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
- "Isle of Wight line's future secured with £26m investment". Railway Gazette International. 16 September 2019. Archived from the original on 16 September 2019.
- Hardy 2001, p. 78.
- Hardy 2001, p. 80.
- Anon (26 March 2018). "Third Ryde Tube: Transfer Troublesome". London Reconnections. London Reconnections. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
- Hardy 2001, p. 79.
- Marsh, Phil (February 2019). Milner, Chris (ed.). "DfT decision on Island Line future deferred for three months". Headline News. The Railway Magazine. Vol. 165 no. 1415. Horncastle: Mortons Media Group (published 6 February 2019). p. 6. ISSN 0033-8923.
- Hardy, Brian (2001). Underground Train File: Tube Stock 1933-1959. Harrow Weald: Capital Transport. ISBN 1-85414-235-6.
- Hardy, Brian (2003). Tube Trains on the Isle of Wight. Harrow Weald, Middlesex: Capital Transport. ISBN 978-1-85414-276-4.
- "Island Line cuts 'tube' fleet to just six two-car units". Rail. No. 326. EMAP Apex Publications. 11–24 March 1998. p. 13. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699.
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