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All across the Great Western territory => Buses and other ways to travel => Topic started by: Lee on May 30, 2021, 10:26:28 am



Title: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: Lee on May 30, 2021, 10:26:28 am
Here's an interesting question for you:

https://onthewight.com/when-is-the-fastcat-evening-service-coming-back/

Quote from: OnTheWight
When is the FastCat evening service coming back?

Since Wightlink’s FastCat was reinstated following Lockdown #2, the late night service has remained suspended.

The last FastCat from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight is 8.20pm, meaning Islanders going out in Portsmouth or Southsea are limited in where they can go and how long they can stay on the other side of the water.

It also means the latest train from London that someone can catch and expect to cross the Solent using the catamaran is 6.30pm from Waterloo.

However, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic it was possible to catch a train from Waterloo at 9pm, connect with the 10.45pm sailing from Portsmouth Harbour and travel back to Ryde, Shanklin, Ventnor and Wroxall by Island Line train and Southern Vectis bus.

Seamless connection from London
Clearly not everyone is bothered about getting back from London in the evening, but there are a number of people who live here and carry out work for clients up there.

The advantage to the Island as a whole is that it brings money to the Island to be spent here.

Forced to use car
One Wightlink commuter tells News OnTheWight they have been trying to seek clarity from the ferry operator as to when they intend to reinstate the late night service, but has not had much luck.

The commuter says,

“At a time when it is imperative to reduce carbon emissions, Wightlink seem to plan to force Island residents to use cars instead of more sustainable modes of transport or just stay at home.

“If this is to be a permanent arrangement then the millions of pounds spent on upgrading the Island Line will be largely wasted.”

Wightlink: Unable to share information about future timetable changes
The response that the commuter received from Wightlink when he asked whether and when the late night service would be reinstated reads:

“I can understand you being eager to get back to travelling later in the evening! Unfortunately, we are unable to share any information about future timetable changes, although we always make sure that customers are the first to know when changes are confirmed.

“We are delighted to have started to reopen for business on all our usual routes and are monitoring passenger numbers carefully to ensure we are meeting the needs of customers in a way that’s sustainable for our business.”

Wightlink: Get the car ferry
News OnTheWight has also contacted Wightlink to see whether they are able to shed any more light on the situation.

The response we received was,

“Currently we are carrying less than 50 per cent of normal passenger numbers on the FastCats and no decision has been taken on running more services.

“Car ferries from Fishbourne to Portsmouth operate later in the evening and there’s plenty of room for foot passengers.”

Using the car ferry does not have the advantage of landing in at Ryde where they is easy access to the train line (when it’s working) or the range of bus routes.

For many living in Venntor, Shanklin, Sandown etc, Fishbourne is effectively in the middle of nowhere.

Appeal to MP
The Island commuter also got in touch with the MP’s office, appealing for Bob Seely to contact Wightlink and ask them to clarify their long term plans for the Ryde Pier to Portsmouth Harbour catamaran service.

Bob Seely’s office have advised that this matter “has now been raised with Wightlink”.

Nationalise the Catamaran
The commuter also asked the MP to speak with the Secretary of State for Transport about the FastCat.

He wants to know if the Sec of State will consider incorporating the FastCat route into the new Great British Railways operation?

He says,

“After all, it’s raison d’etre is to connect two rail terminals.”

He didn’t get a response to that question, but has chased it up and we’ll update once we hear back.

Of course, the ferry services in question were previously run by the British Railways Board, and then latterly by British Rail subsidiary Sealink up until 1984.


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: eightf48544 on May 30, 2021, 10:44:31 am
Yes if we had a sensible integrated transport policy. It could be run as concession with integrated timetables..


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: broadgage on May 30, 2021, 01:47:14 pm
I voted "no" and was clearly in a small minority in so doing.

My reason is that I feel that running the railways will be enough of a challenge for GBR and that ships as well might be too much.
Whilst I hope that GBR will be a forward step, I have some misgivings about the idea and feel ships should only come under their control after some years of satisfactory railway operation.


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: grahame on May 31, 2021, 08:24:23 am
I voted "no" and was clearly in a small minority in so doing.

My reason is that I feel that running the railways will be enough of a challenge for GBR and that ships as well might be too much.
Whilst I hope that GBR will be a forward step, I have some misgivings about the idea and feel ships should only come under their control after some years of satisfactory railway operation.

The voting has swung - perhaps you have had some influence?

I'm not sure what the "right" answer is ... the strategic outcome I would like to see is all modes of public transport connecting through and providing integrated information and ticketing, including looking after the through passenger's interests when things go pear-shaped.     

Whether your feelings that taking on ships would be too much for GBR, or whether a separate / linked divisions who know about boats rather than trains should be done from "day one" ... I know not.  What is "interesting" is a significant investment in the railway from Ryde Pier Head to Shankin, and a good service from many places to Portsmouth Harbour - both becoming GBR, with an apparently unconnected and withering service between the two parts of the network. For that reason, I would like to see it under the management for passenger experience of a single entity - looking after your journey from Brighton to Brading, London to Lake or Shoreham to Shankin.


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: TaplowGreen on May 31, 2021, 08:38:50 am
I voted "no" and was clearly in a small minority in so doing.

My reason is that I feel that running the railways will be enough of a challenge for GBR and that ships as well might be too much.
Whilst I hope that GBR will be a forward step, I have some misgivings about the idea and feel ships should only come under their control after some years of satisfactory railway operation.

Agreed. "Stick to the knitting".


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: Bob_Blakey on May 31, 2021, 09:18:06 am
I voted 'No' because:

GBR should just stick to the 'day job'; there are far too many examples of companies getting involved with enterprises in which they have no expertise, making a complete mess of it, and wrecking the whole operation.
Wightlink is a Private Limited Company - I am not a supporter of compulsory renationalisation.


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: Clan Line on May 31, 2021, 09:26:15 am
I voted "yes" because of my experience of living in Ryde for several years. My "yes" refers only to the Portsmouth Harbour - Ryde Pierhead link, which is just a link in the rail service to the Island and is also used (as I did) as a daily commuter link by many non rail travellers.
It makes little sense to have (what will be) a nationalised rail service with a privately owned ferry in the middle of it. If, for purely commercial reasons, Wightlink decided to close down this link at some time in the future they would have GBR over a very large barrel - it might as well be nationalised from the outset The car ferries can carry on as a privately owned company and compete with Red Funnel. The car ferries are most definitely not rail business - except for carrying new rolling stock over to the Island perhaps ....


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: GBM on May 31, 2021, 09:36:40 am
British Railways ran many ferry services in their time and all provided a rail connection.
Scotland, Wales, North Sea, Dover Straits, Isle of Wight, even the Dartmouth ferry.


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: ChrisB on May 31, 2021, 12:00:09 pm
Surely the andwer here is to initially concentrate on getting the late night service reinstated in the most popular days of the week for late night entertainment - so Fridays & Saturdays? If necessary, the local councils/LEP(s) coupd subsidise the costs if doing this would result in additional losses?

Prove there’s a ‘use it ir lose it’ case for say 6 to 9 months - to the end of the year?


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: grahame on May 31, 2021, 04:05:02 pm
Surely the andwer here is to initially concentrate on getting the late night service reinstated in the most popular days of the week for late night entertainment - so Fridays & Saturdays? If necessary, the local councils/LEP(s) coupd subsidise the costs if doing this would result in additional losses?

Prove there’s a ‘use it ir lose it’ case for say 6 to 9 months - to the end of the year?

Provided you also have one eye on the long term if it works.  If a council or LEP is going to subsidise it need to be prepared to do so well beyond your trial period.   And six to nine months is perilously short (you need 3 years), especially in the current unstable passenger flow conditions with coronavirus and with booking and reservation systems which, frankly, seem designed to confuse and put people off.


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: ChrisB on May 31, 2021, 04:14:23 pm
‘Works’ would mean enough passengers to make those services pay for themselves....so worth continuing without subsidy.

Then maybe nove on to other weekdays to do the same.

I can’t support a ‘nice to have’ unfortunately. There are other more urgent services requiring funding


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: Lee on May 31, 2021, 05:26:46 pm
‘Works’ would mean enough passengers to make those services pay for themselves....so worth continuing without subsidy.

Then maybe nove on to other weekdays to do the same.

I can’t support a ‘nice to have’ unfortunately. There are other more urgent services requiring funding

What the Wight locals are arguing though is that it goes beyond just "nice to have" "late nighf entertainment" - there are livelihoods at stake and other vital uses denied as well. It's a similar situation to how many locals believed that that their evening bus services were "economically nexessary" but the Cameron and May administrations believed they were "nice to have", when justifying cutting back the Regional Transport Grants that local authorities used to fund them.

Through Bus Back Better, the current Johnson administration - and the Prime Minister did write the BBB introduction - make clear that they agree that such evening bus services are "economically necessary" rather than "nice to have", and set out a clear route both strategically and in terms of funding towards reintroducing and strengthening them on that basis.

All the Wight locals seem to be asking for is equivalent treatment of their "economically necessary" ferry services. Is it right they be denied that?


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: ChrisB on May 31, 2021, 05:30:27 pm
If it's so vityal, what are they doing currently?


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: Lee on May 31, 2021, 05:57:08 pm
If it's so vityal, what are they doing currently?

According to the article, they are either being forced to use cars in order to access the Fishbourne car ferries that run later, or stay at home, lose job and other opportunities, and become isolated from society as a result. This in turn risks having a damaging effect on the island as a whole both economically and environmentally.

It is those kind of arguments when deployed against evening bus service cuts that had the cumulative effect of making such cuts be viewed so negatively that it has given the current government little choice but to act, as welcome as I view the fact that they are acting.

But for the grace of god go trains - You are already seeing the beginnings of the "nice to have" argument being deployed on certain SWR services, for example.

Is that the future people want to see?


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: johnneyw on May 31, 2021, 05:59:33 pm
I voted for "don't know" but not for "don't care ".


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: Lee on May 31, 2021, 06:15:34 pm
I voted for "don't know" but not for "don't care ".

That is the result of a suggestion by the late, great legendary member that was TerminalJunkie. A few of us in the early days used to do Yes/No polls, and he urged us to include a Don't know/Don't care option.


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: johnneyw on May 31, 2021, 06:58:07 pm
I voted for "don't know" but not for "don't care ".

That is the result of a suggestion by the late, great legendary member that was TerminalJunkie. A few of us in the early days used to do Yes/No polls, and he urged us to include a Don't know/Don't care option.

Ah, yes......but isn't there still another option not mentioned so far?

Option 4 "I'll take the hovercraft instead"

Or doesn't it run as late as I thought it did.

Edit to answer my own question.   I've looked on the hover service timetables and it seems the don't run that late but I could have sworn that they used to once upon a time.


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: ChrisB on May 31, 2021, 07:11:41 pm
I'm all for retaining the subsidised services we have of course - but I'm unsure that we can automatically start subsidising any thing further without a good case being made - which is what I was suggesting. Is/was there good use being put pre-covid, or was the ferry company subsidising those runs itself from the profits that aren't now there, for example.


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: CyclingSid on June 01, 2021, 12:08:55 pm
Not a simple Yes/No answer, there are various aspects to this. Part of the problem is that because of the price of housing on the IoW lots of people have to commute to work, including NHS staff.

The having to use the Fishbourne car ferry highlights another aspect, car use, pollution, carbon footprint etc. Birmingham's introduced/deferred Clean Air Zone is a related example. When the Eastney-Hayling foot ferry folded some years ago it took a couple of years or more to get a replacement. In the meantime people had got in the habit of driving the car, either to deliver school children, go to work etc. Since it has been re-established the bulk of that custom has not returned, especially as there is only a bus service on one side now. Going back further in to the mists of time, you could say the same about the Portsmouth-Gosport chain ferry, although I believe the Navy wasn't a great fan of it.

As far as I am aware, unlike trains and buses there has not been any general subsidy for ferries, possibly apart from the Woolwich Ferry and CalMac in Scotland.


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: ChrisB on June 01, 2021, 12:32:49 pm
Not a simple Yes/No answer, there are various aspects to this. Part of the problem is that because of the price of housing on the IoW lots of people have to commute to work, including NHS staff.

Indeed - but this is from those who can afford/live on the IOW & commuting to the mainland.


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: grahame on June 01, 2021, 12:52:08 pm
‘Works’ would mean enough passengers to make those services pay for themselves....so worth continuing without subsidy.

Stepping way back up thread ... as hinted at further down, you raise a number of further questions in that answer, Chris

1. Are you looking at a service which pays for itself financially - i.e. the company running it breaks even at least, or a service which pays for itself economically - i.e. where the lack of the service would hit the area / places served / wider business?

2. Are you looking at the late service stand-alone, or also considering the traffic reduction on services the opposite way earlier in the day?  One of our factors doing late train work is that running a late train help increase loads the other way on afternoon services as many/most journeys are returns

3. Are you looking at immediate operational costs (the difference between the boat sitting moored up and running), or are you looking to add a proportion of fixed costs (depreciation, insurance, etc) to your late evening run figures?

4. If you are also running the car ferry, are you also considering the loss of income from the late service on that route when you consider the passenger ferry?   There may not be as many using the car ferry because they have no choice, but there WILL be some and they'll be  bringing income to that boat, even if it's inconvenient ...

Mention in-thread of the Hovercraft too.  Not close to rail inks in Portsmouth as I recall (so arrivals there by train have an extra bus transfer) and not quite as convenient at Ryde Esplanande to the train (especially with luggage or reduced mobility) as the Pier Head transfer is.


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: grahame on June 06, 2021, 12:58:16 pm
Interesting letter from County Press (https://www.countypress.co.uk/news/19343140.wightlink-missed-golden-opportunity-island-line-changes/) - considering how a 30 minute train service, 30 minute [boat/ship] service and another 30 minute train service can and should all link up. 

It sounds like - as described in the letter - that both the IOW train service and the [boat/ship] services can run half hourly with very sharp turn arounds at Pier Head - problem being that doesn't give long enough for passengers to transfer both ways, and someone would need an extra train or  boat to make it work.


Title: Re: Poll - Should Wightlink Ferries Become Part of Great British Railways?
Post by: Lee on June 06, 2021, 01:56:52 pm
Voting now closed - Many thanks for taking part, and for the quality of the debate on both sides.

A close run thing in the end with the "Yes" camp nominally just nicking it, but the "balance of power" arguably resting with the "Don't Know/Don't Cares"



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