FERRY COMPANIES RESPOND AS LEADERS TURN AND CALL FOR GOVERNMENT HELP

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Wightlink, Red Funnel and Hovertravel have all responded to today’s news that senior local officials have turned and are calling on the government to intervene in respect of cross-Solent travel – but all 3 have failed to address the rising prices, increasing unreliability and reducing services they offer.

As reported by Island Echo this morning, Bob Seely MP and Council Leader Dave Stewart have called on the Government to look at introducing a ‘regulatory and governance’ model or the options of a fixed link as the Isle of Wight can no longer rely on ferry companies to provide lifeline services. The leaders have called for intervention and change.

The 3 transport operators have issued statements but neither of them have addressed the issues Islanders have such as soaring prices, last-minute cancellations, increased unreliability, reducing timetables and the inability to run in adverse weather. Instead, they each say how wonderful their service is and how much they’ve invested in recent years.

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Red Funnel

In their statement, Red Funnel says they are ‘surprised and disappointed’ by some of the content in the submission:

“Red Funnel is wholly committed to delivering excellent cross-Solent services and keeping the Isle of Wight community connected. We fully understand the level of responsibility as a lifeline operator and we take this position as seriously today as we have throughout our 160 years in service. We have always sought to do what is right by our customers and the Island communities we are proud to serve.

“We are committed to delivering a fair, reliable service with a balanced approach to meeting the needs of our customers while also pursing the technical and environmental innovations we need to sustain us and support the Island well into the future.

“Our commitment to supporting the Isle of Wight has been most recently demonstrated by our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Working collaboratively with the Department for Transport, the IW Council and the IW Transport Infrastructure Board, we maintained the maximum possible level of service, at times to suit as many customers as possible, and consistently kept the Island connected and supplied throughout.

“We are surprised and disappointed by some of the content in the submission from MP Seely and Cllr Stewart given our levels of investment into replacement tonnage, customer service and infrastructure, alongside consistently high performance in customer satisfaction, reliability and punctuality.

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“Our customers are at the forefront of our minds at every point, and we strive to ensure we are offering the best quality service possible.

“As and when it may be appropriate to engage in future discussions with the Department for Transport or other government bodies, we will be happy to discuss the points raised in MP Seely and Cllr Stewart’s submission to offer further insight.

“At this time however, given the seriousness of the current state of the pandemic, we are presently focusing all of our efforts into maintaining our service as safely and as frequently as possible and supporting our staff and customers.”

Wightlink

Keith Greenfield, CEO of Wightlink, says that the company does not recognise some of the comments made by the MP and Council Leader:

“Good connectivity across the Solent and beyond is crucial to residents and businesses on the Isle of Wight. This has been at the heart of our co-operation with the Isle of Wight Council and the other transport operators during this difficult year when we have kept essential services running despite making considerable losses.

“Although Wightlink does not recognise some of the comments made by the MP and Council Leader, we are always keen to explore how Island connectivity could be further enhanced with our ferries playing a part in improved onward transport links.”

“We would be interested in hearing how the numerous loss-making services we run across our three routes, such as the lifeline sailings for freight and key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, could be supported in future.”

“Wightlink has recently invested £45million in England’s first large hybrid-electric car ferry Victoria of Wight and linked port improvements. This follows a major £70 million upgrade of the rest of the fleet and infrastructure that started in 2007.

“Wightlink offers significant discounts for Isle of Wight residents including the Multilink Pass (only available to Islanders) which enables holders to travel with a vehicle and up to seven people for a fixed sum as low as £22.85 per crossing, even on the busiest summer days.

“We look forward to contributing to the review and, in the meantime, we will continue to invest to provide Islanders with the best possible service, despite the current challenges.”

Hovertravel

Neil Chapman, Managing Director of Hovertravel, adds:

“We acknowledge that a process to ascertain and ensure the delivery of transport services to answer the needs of an Island community is worthwhile.

“We would be the first in line to rigorously defend the community’s rights to access the same government support as elsewhere in the UK.

“At the same time, we do not under-estimate the challenges inherent in such a process, which would need to demonstrate a workable solution for all the stakeholders.

“Hovertravel is dedicated to providing a high-speed ferry service and delighting its customers with award-winning customer service delivered by nationally recognised staff.”

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.
34 Comments
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David Hogg
David Hogg
3 months ago

Makes you laugh Government provided money due to Covid and in return ferry company cuts its services and then questions asked and ferry companies give a standard BS answer, I’m against a fixed link but I can see if the ferry company’s carry on the way they are going it will happen and that will be there doing. IWCC you had the chance of ownership of a current ferry firm in the early 80s for a mere 90 million by now IWCC would be a wealthy Council you missed the chance and are at fault like the ferry firms

The Original Lady Dunstanding
The Original Lady Dunstanding
Reply to  David Hogg
3 months ago

Fair one, chef! What bothers me is the tripe they all serve up to us. The politicos have shares in the ferries and some of them even have declared interests, and undeclared in some cases, in the Covid-corridor bridge schemes. Every Caulkhead right now blames the ferry companies for bringing the tourists fleeing their shite home cities, and our MP and leading councillor know this. So they raise questions publicly about the viability of them to sound good to locals. The big shareholders of the ferry companies actually have money invested in the fixed link plans; stupid not to have a backup plan, so they don’t care either way. All of them are proper matey, if not related, and they all owe each other money and favours. Upshot will be a telling off, followed by a study, then friendly advice plus lots of free cash… If, however unlikely, a bridge… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by The Original Lady Dunstanding
David Hogg
David Hogg
Reply to  The Original Lady Dunstanding
3 months ago

hi original lady

The Original Lady Dunstanding
The Original Lady Dunstanding
Reply to  David Hogg
3 months ago

Hi back, Hoggy. How’s your mushroom Stroganoff? Happy new year, sir.

Dave
Dave
Reply to  David Hogg
3 months ago

Nice one David, also if they started the tunnel back then it would finished by now and earning… even if they start by just a tunnel for the train.. that would help many thousands of people..

ian johnson
ian johnson
Reply to  Dave
3 months ago

Does the island need a fixed link; it would be the death of island life as we know it; and very shortly after, the island as a whole. Just think how many from tier 4 areas would be here now if there was a tunnel. It makes me shudder just thinking about it !!!

Dave
Dave
Reply to  ian johnson
3 months ago

We are Tier 4 Ian…

Jason Faulkner
Jason Faulkner
3 months ago

It could always have been worse, IMAGINE if the IW council had control of the ferry transport. They can’t even run a bridge over a river.

Need to go asap.

Mandy
Mandy
3 months ago

Has there been a fallout within the Seely family.

Me me
Me me
3 months ago

Think red funnel have a good service at reasonable cost to islanders but Wightlink tend to do wot they want no fixed link please

Dave
Dave
Reply to  Me me
3 months ago

Reasonable cost… really ??? Plus delayed or cancelled services.. what good is that ??

Les
Les
3 months ago

Bs!It dont matter how uou companies gloss over it with your nonsense waffle
Your ALL only in it for profit.dont give a toss about islanders.were entitled too choice.
I personally want a tunnel but either waythe extortionate prices need too stop

noel afflick
noel afflick
Reply to  Les
3 months ago

Problem with a tunnel is the fumes esp and how to get rid of them under that suface and distance where to put it. It would need to have access to Southampton and pompey minimum but its probably gotta exit north of both citys which increases cost and engineering challenges. A road link is a viable option. However its the size of the shipping thats the issue and how access is provided.. They wont go high as it wont fit the environment.

And its difficult to do a draw or swing bridge as it would be the frequency of its use and the associated cost in terms of maintenance.

Its all possible but itsa serious engineering challenge that will require a lot of space. Simplicity in ship design may help

freeloader
freeloader
Reply to  noel afflick
3 months ago

noel – any bridge would be on the western side of the island – it could not be east of cowes under any circumstances – that is the main shipping channel out of southampton and to the open sea – all ships out of southampton – cruise liners, tankers etc cannot turn right out of southampton and must all go past portsmouth. Any bridge on that side would have to be high enough for those tankers and cruise liners to get underneath, as well as any large warships. This would mean the bridge would be closed in high winds, just like the ferries being off. The island would be no better off. the western side of the island would mean ripping up vast areas of greenland, to create new roads and then the elephant in the room….no county on the mainland wants to host the exit/entrance ramp for any bridge… Read more »

Dave
Dave
Reply to  freeloader
3 months ago

Cannot be a bridge… weather problems..

Dave
Dave
Reply to  noel afflick
3 months ago

Obvious you have not heard about the Channel Tunnel..??? Am quite sure it is a little bit longer !! Seems another living in the dark..

Dave
Dave
Reply to  noel afflick
3 months ago

Ever heard of the channel tunnel Noel ?? That deals with fumes etc… and just a wee bit longer too !

Fred
Fred
3 months ago

Not investing for customer, only so can charge us more and carry more , I don’t benefit from their investment unless cheaper and faster. In the late 90s / 00s was best value

Bazzlaaaaa
Bazzlaaaaa
3 months ago

Fixed link would sort this!!!!

Lesley
Lesley
Reply to  Bazzlaaaaa
3 months ago

It’s time it was looked at sensibly and carefully! Many dislike the idea of a fixed link (although it was deemed economically very beneficial before the war) but without cheaper ferry costs the island is unable to function economically efficiently for the next generation. If Sicily can provide cheap return workday costs for residents to and from it’s islands – longer distance away too – so that islanders can go to work in Sicily each day then why can’t England resource this too? Interestingly, Wightlink don’t appear to be thinking of their own employees at the moment, so it’s hypocritical to maintain that they think anymore of their customers! So, perhaps if the Government invested in a fixed link/cheaper travel it would, in the long run, lower the Benefits it needs to provide the next generation, who will struggle to access what little work opportunities there already are on the… Read more »

Viv
Viv
3 months ago

Do the people who want a fixed link really believe that you will all be able to pop back and forth over a bridge or a tunnel for free? It has also been bad enough this year with people coming across during covid situation, flouting the rules. Wouldnt a fixed link have been super for all of the selfish idiots that thought it their right to visit island when they were told to stay at home.. isnt that one of reasons covid rate has gone up on the island.

freeloader
freeloader
Reply to  Viv
3 months ago

not to mention the endless procession of travellers in caravans driving over and parking up everywhere, which the island avoids, because travellers caravan convoys cannot easily congregate on the island without arousing suspicion at the ferry ports.

Dave
Dave
Reply to  freeloader
3 months ago

What a stupid answer, forgot specs again… the travellers as you call them come and go all summer, some stay all year round..
But if we stay as you would like us to, maybe you will be asked to go to the mainland for some appointment ( glasses maybe) and you have to pay over £100 just to get a return ticket, maybe you would think twice after waiting ages for a ferry for yours was cancelled.. the dark ages have gone ! Live for a tomorrow not for a yesteryear !

Dave
Dave
Reply to  Viv
3 months ago

Excuse me, where does it say the ‘fixed link’ would be free ? They say it would be cheaper.. oh yes you are one of those that live in the past, have not gone to get spectacles yet !! ( these days most people call them glasses now.. )

Dave
Dave
Reply to  Viv
3 months ago

Excuse me… with a fixed link, they would have BETTER control of who comes across.. PLUS would not have to mix with other people.. and hopefully would not take an hour, unless you were driving !! ha ha !! No specs..

Common sence
Common sence
3 months ago

Get the bridge built.

David Hogg
David Hogg
Reply to  Common sence
3 months ago

You call that common sense hopefully your not in Transport

Dave
Dave
Reply to  Common sence
3 months ago

Tunnel…

JHVF
JHVF
3 months ago

Ryde – Fishbourne – Portsmouth and Yarmouth – Lymington were better under British Rail and of course Red Funnel under the old firm, it all started to go wrong when ‘Global’ big businesses got involved when it switched from providing a service with a reasonable profit to just making money. In other words, not running at cost plus the reasonable profit but ‘how much can we squeeze em for’

Dave
Dave
3 months ago

Yes the Ferry companies have invested millions of their SHAREHOLDERS money.. to what end… so they can hike up the prices more and more.. I can remember not that many years ago Hovercraft and Catamaran were £100 each way, Catamaran 15 min Hovercraft 10 min.. Now although for unknown reasons they call it FAST CAT ??? It takes 23 minutes !! What is fast about that?? The old Boat that did Ryde to Portsmouth took just under 30 minutes… Yet the cost of using the service is ridiculous now !! Fuel is cheaper now too.. I remember paying £8 and change for return with my motorbike Fishbourne to Portsmouth. Near 5X that now, why so expensive, do not get anything more than did then.. can get 4 motorbikes in space of a car.. complete rip off !! Island should own its own ferries, but not like the idiot that proposed… Read more »

Dave
Dave
Reply to  Dave
3 months ago

Sorry that was meant to be £ 1.00

Keith
Keith
3 months ago

I WISH……. travel with a vehicle and up to seven people for a fixed sum as low as £22.85 per crossing, even on the busiest summer days.

John d
John d
Reply to  Keith
3 months ago

That’s if you can get a booking when you want in the past i haven’t been able to get off the island for 3 days in the summer. They take the expensive bookings first

Old Man
Old Man
3 months ago

Ths I O W is fundermentaly a Conservative Island. Conservative values rely on many things with profit and gain dependent on market forces. Clearly for the Island as a whole to prosper, a tunnel is needed.

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