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A senior councillor has shared his frustrations about the lack of Wightlink’s usual passenger service to and from Ryde, saying that it is ‘cutting off the Island’.

As lockdown restrictions start easing and with a potential increase in visitors to the Isle of Wight, ferry services have started to be put back on after passenger demand got so low, operators pulled routes out of service.

However, one service, in particular, is causing great stress to residents, business owners and officials – as it is yet to be put back on.

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The Wightlink FastCat route from Ryde to Portsmouth, which directly links the railways on and off the Island, will be out of service for some time still due to the lack of passenger demand as people continue to work from home and tourists are being advised against non-essential journeys on public transport.

Speaking yesterday (Thursday), at a meeting of the Isle of Wight Council’s policy and scrutiny committee for regeneration and neighbours, the cabinet member for regeneration and business development, Cllr Wayne Whittle, described the on-going complications and talks with Wightlink bosses as ‘very distressing’ and affecting sustainable transport on the Island.

He said:

“The FastCat not working is affecting our resorts and that is where the ferry companies, Wightlink in particular, are directing people to the car ferries – encouraging more vehicles over here and less sustainable transport, which is disappointing.”

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With some coach firms that typically bring a large number of visitors to the Island going bust, Cllr Whittle said one of the only ways tourists can come across on foot is by train and passenger ferries and having a rail-to-rail connection.

He said:

“It is very disappointing when you think the government is funding, to the tune of millions, cross-Solent ferries and railways, but we have ended up with one of the only broken rail links in the country and that has excluded people who don’t have vehicles coming here.

“I would really like to see Wightlink doing their part to get the FastCat going for Ryde as the Hovertravel is a very good service but it is not very well linked to the rail.”

Hovertravel does provide a shuttle bus service for its users to get to both Portsmouth Harbour and Portsmouth and Southsea stations but the FastCat terminal in Portsmouth is directly in the Portsmouth Harbour terminal.

Cllr Whittle also said the messaging about non-essential journeys has not helped the perception for public transport and has asked Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely to lobby the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, to change the message.

Cllr Whittle hopes this would improve demand for ferry and rail operators because without the Portsmouth to Ryde route ‘it is cutting off the Island’.

Cabinet member for infrastructure and transport, Cllr Ian Ward, said the council is going to ‘try to delve deeper into Wightlink’s rationale’ because getting the FastCats up and running would benefit everyone.

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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The Truth

Wightlink don’t give a hoot about the island or its residents. Profits Profits Profits!

Inbred iowter

Who wants them back a minority concerned with profit the majority don’t want infected hordes descending on the island

Ryan young

Who wants them back the people who are born and bread on the island and work on the mainland.
This Is a major route and should be running I’m a key worker who for the last 5 months has had to get to get up at 2.45am to get to work.
Wightlink say demand the demand would be there if they started running the fast cat.

Calum Glenister

The councillor in question is likely ONLY concerned because he owns the end of the pier shop, and the Big Kahuna by the canoe lake which are adversely effected by such.
This is more about ‘his’ profits I fear than caring about others.


No one’s going to come for a day if it’s a 2 hour car ferry ride and no onward transport links at Fishbourne. Hover need advance booking and season tickets for wightlink passholders now so that’s pretty useless. It’s frustrating that wightlink say no passenger demand. If we had fast cat back then people would come. My family aren’t coming over until fast cat is back running as it’s too much hassle. Why not trial some reduced sailings for next few weeks and publicise it. Wightlink website is totally non informative. It seems to be operating on basis of no… Read more »

New Ideas

Why don’t Isle of Wight council encourage Wightlink to sell the Fastcat service to a new operator? That’s regeneration.

Last edited 1 month ago by New Ideas
Beach and sea

He only wants to sell more ice creams. And plastic buckets and spades.

New Ideas

and booze now

Calum Glenister

DWP ought to pay a surprise visit too.

Christine Jacobs

But not everyone has a car to use car ferry and some people dont want to go to fishbourne or lymington if they stay in ryde sandown or shanklin because that would add more time to journey


The hover is a disaster! Twice I have been stranded due to high winds – the council needs to force Wightlink to start the passenger cat service.


stranded – how did you cope, marooned on this uninhabited island with no food or shelter – stranded …get a grip


I HAVE TO WORK! No doubt you are retired on a fat pension.


and when did this stranding happen ? did you have to set up a bamboo shelter from the trees around the beaches, or did you, as I suspect get another ferry service back. The Hover hasn’t stopped due to weather since february.
I know, I commute on it ever day and have done since the cat stopped running. Get a grip, liz you snowflake and stop whining


the fastcat stopped on april 6th – i started using the hover on april 7th – it has run every day


Essential services should not be in the private sector.


I live in Birmingham and a friend of mine who I have known for over sixty years passed away during the epidemic in birmingham, her sister lives in Ryde and has decided for her funeral to be there , can’t go, because of the lack of ferries, totally disgusted about this and not being able to attend x


utter crap sylvia – there are hovercraft every half hour, red jet at peak time, car ferries operating hourly – what is your problem.


I travel to the I.o.w every day of the week and part of it on a cycle. Going over on car ferry and back on the fast cat, it’s the easiest way for me. No good to find out hover cancelled due to high winds then I’m marooned.I want to return to work but can’t at the moment…


garbage tony, utter garbage – i commute on the Hover and it has not been cancelled due to wind since february.

Old kev

Firstly demand there is from the island commuters, we have no way to make ourselves heard…. If the railway companies take out a station there’s a free bus link to bridge the service….. Why has there not been a free bus from the esplanade to Fishbourne ferry terminal….. Ditto Portsmouth terminal at least get a commuter service running…

roger everyone

If the service was running, they would only cancel half the sailings due to “staff shortages” or mechanical problems.
They pick and choose when they want to sail anyway with these excuses all the time.

If only residents would have the intelligence to get behind the island having a tunnel…..


We dont want the people coming over on holiday cos it will end up with another lockdown


You moan like &&&& that you want to be sectioned off from the mainland and now you want to go back to normal even though the virus is still as bad as it was before it just isn’t pushed in the media as much… You lot are funny beings – you have no idea

Ian dibble

I’m coming over but have got to use the ferry, I have always used the fast kat before and want it back as its so much easier and quicker. Get it running.

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