Monday, 4 April 2016

Class 483

As explained in the entry on the Class 485 the need to "modernise" the Isle of Wight offshoot of the British Rail network in the late 1960s and the clearance difficulties caused by Ryde tunnel meant that ex-London Underground tube stock had to be used in a modified form. By the 1980s however the 485s and Class 486s were life expired but their replacements turned out to be also ex-Tube stock! The Class 483s were rebuilt 1938 stock and thus while also elderly were somewhat newer than their early 1920s vintage forerunners! The ex-LU stock, which comprised a mixture of ex-revenue service stock and departmental vehicles, was used to create 2-car trains (the 1938 stock being 4-car) as Ryde Depot had difficulty handling longer trains [1].

Number built: 20 cars (2-car units)
Built: 1939-40
(Rebuilt as 483s) 1989
Builder: Metro-Cammell
(Rebuilds) BR Eastleigh
Engine: 4 Crompton Parkinson / GEC / BTH LT100 traction motors
(630v DC third rail - originally LU fourth rail)
Power: 670 hp (500 kW)
Formation: Driving Motor Standard Open (DMSO)+DMSO

The stock was refurbished and modified for Island Line use which included changing from fourth rail to third rail operation. All exposed steel surfaces were also treated to protect against salt erosion [2] (the Island Line partly runs over the sea when it operates up Ryde Pier, corrosion have proven to have been a problem with the earlier stock). Twenty vehicles were used in the 483 programme though only 18 were used for passenger service, the others being used for spares. Since their introduction a number of vehicles have been withdrawn and some scrapped so now the fleet has been reduced to 5 operational trains though this is sufficient for the Island Line schedule.

As "new" the Class 483s wore Network South East livery followed by "dinosaur" livery post-privatisation (the Island Line being part of the South West Trains franchise though treated as a separate entity) but currently wear a livery based on London Underground historic deep red [3]. There are currently no plans with withdraw the 483s though their future is uncertain as they are now approaching 80 years old. Original plans to use Piccadilly Line 1973 Stock as a third generation EMU on the line has been put into doubt by the delay in replacing the 1973 Stock until the mid-2020s. 1983 Stock was also offered in the past but turned down as it was considered "too digital".

A recent report has suggested replacing the Island Line with a light rail system based on former Midland Metro T69 vehicles [4], whatever happens to the railway on the Isle of Wight the tradition of "second hand" will likely continue.
483 004 at Ryde St John's Road

Ryde Depot

483 004 returns to dry land after travelling along Ryde Pier

[1] Brian Hardy, Tube Trains on the Isle of Wight (Capital Transport, 2003) p. 62
[2] Hardy p. 63
[3] Colin J. Marsden, DMU and EMU Recognition Guide (Ian Allan, 2013) p. 367
[4] "Trams for the Isle of Wight?", Railways Illustrated (April 2016)