The flooded railway tunnel at Ryde Esplanade. Picture by Robin Crossley.
A MAJOR operation is underway on the Isle of Wight to repair the storm-damaged rail network.
Island Line said two of its trains would be out of action for months after being submerged in the recent floods, while 600 tonnes of ballast was needed to shore up areas where landslides had left the track unsupported.
Engineers need to replace ballast and sleepers across three miles of track, following severe flooding at Ryde over the festive period, the company said. Fifty metres of signal cabling must also be replaced.
A spokesman said: "Around 600 tonnes of ballast, the material used to provide stability to the track, will be delivered from today (Thursday).
"Crews will begin work with the material which weighs the equivalent of more than 450 average cars on Monday to get the line back up and running.
"The two crews will begin work from each end of the three mile stretch of track that needs repairing. One crew will start from Ryde tunnel, working towards Smallbrook Junction and the other will work from the other side, working back to the Smallbrook Junction.
"Repairs are also needed to the station platform at Smallbrook Junction."
Replacement bus and taxi services remain in place for around 17 hours a day and Southern Vectis buses on routes 2 and 3 are also accepting rail ticket holders between Ryde and Shanklin.