Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight MP wants answers over ferry service disruption

Ferry Image copyright Joy Scutchings
Image caption The Red Falcon ferry ran aground while entering Cowes Harbour in dense fog

An MP is calling for answers from the three ferry firms operating to the Isle of Wight after months of disruption.

Red Funnel, Wightlink and Hovertravel cross-Solent services have all suffered breakdowns - the Red Funnel car ferry has recently crashed twice during fog.

Island MP Bob Seely's letter says: "I should not need to state the need for a reliable service for islanders".

Each firm has been asked to explain their companies' respective performances.

"In particular I would like to ask whether you consider the current levels of technical or mechanical faults are acceptable and what, if any, steps you intend to take to ensure that your companies manage to run the service you advertise," Mr Seely's letter said.

Image copyright Lewis Clarke
Image caption The fire on the vehicle ferry Wight Sky led to the evacuation of 117 people

Among the incidents involving Wightlink was an engine fire onboard Wight Sky mid-Solent on 27 August during its Yarmouth-Lymington service which led to the evacuation of 117 people.

The car ferry service has also recently suffered numerous delays and cancellations due to a "mechanical issue".

Wightlink's Portsmouth-Fishbourne service has also suffered a recent "technical issue" resulting in hour-long delays this month.

Two of Red Funnel's car ferries recently crashed during fog resulting in disruption.

Red Eagle crashed into moored yachts on 27 September during a 05:30 BST sailing from East Cowes to Southampton.

And on 21 October, Red Falcon's 07:00 sailing from Southampton collided with a moored yacht, sinking it before running aground while entering Cowes Harbour in dense fog.

Its high speed service was also severely disrupted after Red Jet 4 broke down on 21 September.

Image copyright Hovertravel
Image caption The Southsea to Ryde hovercraft service is running as a shuttle service while Solent Flyer is repaired

Hovertravel have been running a one-craft shuttle service since 21 September between Southsea and Ryde due to a technical issue with its hovercraft Solent Flyer, which is expected back at the end of November.

The service has also experienced numerous cancellations due to "technical issues".

Mr Seely has asked the firm to give "clearer information" regarding the issues.

The letter states: "The disruption comes in addition to cancellations, necessary or not, due to weather conditions.

"I look forward to your comments. Clearly, I will be making them public," he said.

All three firms said they would consider Mr Seely's letter fully before responding.

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