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Step back in time with the steam train.
Isle of Wight Steam Railway (Isle of Wight)
Member Name: Absy_Baby
Isle of Wight Steam Railway (Isle of Wight)
Advantages: An authentic and historic travel experience.
Disadvantages: A bit pricey for what it is.
The Isle of Wight Steam Railway is located in Havenstreet not too far (approximately 3 miles) from Ryde or Newport. Although there are 3 train stations that the train stops at, you can only pay and gain access to the Steam Train at this station.
The train stations are:
The train doesn't currently stop at Ashey, I am unsure why.
We followed the signs from Ryde towards the Steam Train and Havenstreet, you go out in the countryside and down some rather small lanes, but the Train Station is on the left hand side as is the car park. The car park isn't massive but it was rather quiet when we visited thanks to it being October and mid week. Parking is free.
At the entrance booth you are asked whether you want first class or third class tickets. God only knows what happened to second class?
First Class / Third Class
Adult - £13.00 / £9.00
Child (5-15 years) - £8.50 / £4.50
Infant (0-4 years) - FREE / FREE
Family Fare - £38.50 / £22.50
Dogs - £3.00 / £3.00
Amazingly the above prices for 2009 were held at 2008 prices. I find this worrying at these prices anyway.
Like I said Havenstreet is the main station and has the following facilities and amenities:
Station Buffet (cafe)
Station Museum of Island Railway History
Childrens Play Area
Although with the above you would assume the site to be of reasonable size, especially seeing the prices, but it is surprisingly small and there really isn't a lot there. The biggest thing is probably the cafe.
I thought the pricing was rather expensive, after all an all day travel card from where I live outside Zone 6 in to the centre of London - Zone 1, costs £12.50.
If there had been more to do, then perhaps I wouldn't complain but there was limited things to see, the museum was small and there wasn't much on display. I know I shouldn't be this petty either but it smelt funny.
If there had been more than the 30 people there while we were, it would have been cramped in the station grounds, especially on a wet or damp day, when no-one wants to go on the Woodland Walk or go on to the surrounding greenery.
If it was a nice day I can imagine having a picnic and watching the trains comes in and pass through. I think this may get boring though. If you have little children the play area is good but I wouldn't suggest paying the price for it, the local park can compete it isn't overly fantastic but available if you are there.
The difference between 1st and 3rd class is simply the upholstery, each carriage has a door on each side, and two benches in it one facing forward and one backward. It is nice quite cosy although you could fit 4 adults on each bench. 8 adults per carriage. We had out 3rd class carriage to ourselves. The seats are rather old and all the springs are worn and out of place, it doesn't make for the most comfy ride.
First class has been re upholstered and is far more comfy and looks more expensive and classy. To be honest though, there isn't much difference. After all it is just a train ride.
The windows are slide down ones and the doors do not lock, I can understand the simple engineering behind these from the period in which steam trains were used but unfortunately I wouldn't say this was safe, it says on the inside of the carriage please do not hang out of the window, a lot of parents were allowing their children to do this, it would only take them knocking the handle on the door and falling out mid ride. Not safe.
The other stations are described as:
Wootton - a quiet country terminus on the main bus route from Ryde and Newport. This just means that Wootton is in the middle of nowhere and there is nothing there, a small station with toilets and no other facilities.
Ashey - a quiet rural halt, no road access and only accessible on foot. This is not really a station, more of a platform amongst some bushes and trees with nothing there. Not that this matters, the train doesn't stop anyway.
Smallbrook - the interchange between the steam railway and the islands electric trains. Again there is no road or footpath access here, if you want to get on the steam train you must come by train. If you want to leave the steam train you must get on an electric train. There is more movement here, and you can understand why, people can enter and leave this way, it is another entrance to the attraction.
The round trip lasts about 45 minutes, it was not the most thrilling adventure I have ever had, it was a nice experience and we did enjoy looking at the front and having a peek at the driver doing all his stuff while the train was in the station.
The facilities need to be improved for the price you pay. Unless you can accept the majority of your money pays for the running and maintenance of these great pieces of engineering and history. Unfortunately for me, I would have rather of paid less and then had the option to donate money, which I would have, I suppose not everyone is like me though.
It is a good experience, I just wouldn't call it a whole day out.
Summary: If you haven't been on a steam train this is a good way to do it.
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