It’s been confirmed that one of the Isle of Wight tube trains could make a return to London in the near future.
The Isle of Wight railway famously uses converted 1938 tube trains originally built for the London Underground, but refurbished between 1989 and 1992 and recategorised as British Rail Class 483 trains. Having been in use far beyond their expected lifespan, the trains are to be replaced, probably later this year, by newer also ex-London Underground trains, converted by Vivarail.
The unanswered question has been what will happen to the old tube trains.
In stepped the London Transport Traction Group, which has set up a campaign to keep one of the trains in operational use, and they say that they are now in advanced discussions to see the train put into regular use on the Epping Ongar heritage railway.
That would see one of the old London Underground trains return to its spiritual home.
The island railway has six trains, but just one is now in regular use with one recently taken out of service and the remaining trains used to scavenge for spare parts. The aim is to save one of the two working trains, subject to the cost of shipping it to London and commercial agreements being signed.
If they are able to acquire the train and the Epping Ongar Railway takes it – subject to their own fundraising campaign – then they aim to run the train under its own power (battery or internal), rather than hauling it with a spare locomotive, which would give a true London Underground feel to the service.
A spokesman from the Epping Ongar Railway issued the following statement: “Given our strong links with the Underground we’re very excited about the possibility of seeing a unit like this run under its own power. We’ve had informal discussions with The London Transport Traction Group and look forward to seeing more details soon. Though we’re some way away the concept of bringing tubes back to our line is something that we support – after all we did just that in 2014!”
If they are able to acquire it, expect cheering crowds of tube geeks to line the streets to Epping as the old tube train is brought back home at long last.