SSEN and SWR partnership-working brings benefits to the Isle of Wight

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is working in partnership with South Western Railway (SWR) to carry out essential upgrade works on the Isle of Wight, boosting the resilience of power supplies while minimising disruption to customers. 

The joint working project, which started in the first week of January, means shared services have resulted in a reduction in costs of £200,000 and is enabling SSEN to replace and upgrade parts of the infrastructure at Ryde, Rowbottom and Sandown over the coming weeks; providing the area with a network fit for the future, meeting the changing demands of those living and working on the island and ultimately assisting them in achieving their net-zero ambitions in line with Government targets. 

Running until April 2021, all of the works associated with the £400,000 electricity network upgrade are located alongside the rail line, replacing and upgrading sections of the network supplying power to the tracks with modern and more efficient equipment, and as a considerate constructor SSEN had been looking for ways to minimise disruption to residents and rail users alike. 

Tim Eccleston, SSEN’s Project Manager on the Isle of Wight explains more: 

“At SSEN we always strive to work in the safest and least disruptive way, so when we were informed of South Western Rail’s plans to invest £26 million in the island’s rail infrastructure, we were keen to see how we could work alongside them. As SWR’s works require an outage to the track, we have been able to use this time to carry out our own project, resulting in no further required outages to the line and a considerable saving of almost £200,000 on the initial budget for these works.  

“For the duration of this upgrade programme, SSEN will be working closely with SWR’s team to turn the power off to the track when needed and to coordinate our joint substation works; making use of the quiet track, established site welfare and shared ecologist to reduce our project costs, and provide a safer and more secure supply of electricity to our customers on the Isle of Wight.” 

The joint working with SSEN and SWR is part of a £26 million investment by SWR to upgrade the Island Line; enabling the installation of a new passing loop at Brading, and track enhancement that will provide a major boost to reliability, comfort and convenience to rail users, with adjustments to platform height to improve accessibility and accommodate the new trains being introduced to the island.  

Alex Foulds, Commercial Projects Director for South Western Railway, said: 

“We’re delighted to be partnering with SSEN, who are playing a key role in delivering our £26 million Island Line upgrade. 

“More reliable infrastructure sits at the heart of our plan to improve performance and reliability for our customers on the Isle of Wight. SSEN’s upgrades to the electricity network will help us to roll-out a half hourly service, smoothly introduce a new fleet of trains and bring about improvements to the Island’s stations.” 

By working in partnership with South Western Railway, SSEN will have reduced the original estimated cost of this project by almost £200,000; a saving that will ultimately be passed on to SSEN’s customers while still providing the upgrade that ensures a power supply to suit the needs of the Isle of Wight’s residents and business owners, now and in to the future. These works will help the island’s communities achieve their net-zero ambitions, so as more of them turn to using electric vehicles, they have a supply and infrastructure that’s fit for purpose. 

The Climate Change Committee (CCC) indicated in their recently published Sixth Carbon Budget, that as the UK transitions to net zero, electricity demand could treble by 2050.  SSEN is working to understand the ambitions of the communities it serves, and to enable this transition.