Investing £45million to improve your ferry service

Wightlink has a long and proud history of serving the Isle of Wight and bringing holidaymakers across the Solent. However, we are also always looking to the future. After many months of planning, work is now starting to build a new ship and carry out port improvements on our busiest route, Portsmouth-Fishbourne.

This £45million project is the biggest ever single investment in services, and follows the introduction of new ferries on our Lymington-Yarmouth and Portsmouth Harbour-Ryde Pier Head routes.

This next phase includes:

  • A new ship: the most environmentally friendly ferry ever to sail across the Solent
  • Extending our current flagship St Clare to carry more vehicles
  • Easy-to-use double deck boarding ramps at both Portsmouth Gunwharf and Fishbourne
  • A new terminal building at Portsmouth Gunwharf

The development will allow us to:

  • Carry more cars, lorries and other vehicles at times when our customers want to travel
  • Help us to improve reliability and punctuality, especially at the busiest times of the year
  • Allow us to introduce new hybrid battery technology to operate more efficiently and quietly and reduce turnaround times

Our project has won the backing of our local authorities… planning committee councillors on both Isle of Wight and Portsmouth councils voted unanimously to approve our applications for the project to build new boarding ramps so we can introduce double deck loading for the new ship.

We’re on track to finish our port improvements by summer 2017 and our new ship will arrive in spring 2018.

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A new flagship benefits

A new flagship

Our new ship will be slightly larger than St Clare. It will use sustainable hybrid battery technology (as well as conventional fuel), reducing our carbon footprint and making arrivals and departures quieter. The new ferry will have two fixed vehicle decks to hold the equivalent of 178 cars and more than 1,000 people along with comfortable seats and cafés.

After careful consideration, we chose the experienced Cemre shipyard in Turkey to carry out the work. We expect to welcome the new ship to the Solent in spring 2018.

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More room for vehicles on St Clare

We’ve extended the top vehicle deck of St Clare so it can carry more cars. And, as soon as the new boarding ramps are built at Portsmouth Gunwharf and Fishbourne, customers will drive on board our vehicle decks on two levels via the new easy-to-use double deck ramps.

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What’s happening at Fishbourne?

A new easy-to-use double deck loading ramp will be built by spring 2017 to enable cars, lorries and other vehicles to be loaded and unloaded more quickly and quietly. As much of the structure as possible will be built off site and assembled at the terminal to minimise disruption to customers and neighbours.

What’s happening at Portsmouth Gunwharf?

A second tier of boarding lanes will be built by spring 2017 to allow easy-to-use double deck loading on both our new ship and St Clare. This will mean cars, lorries and other vehicles can be loaded and unloaded more quickly and quietly. As much of the structure as possible will be built offsite and assembled at the terminal to minimise disruption to customers and neighbours. Our new boarding lanes will be able to hold the equivalent of 400 cars at any one time, which will cut congestion in Portsmouth at the busiest times of the year.

We will construct a three storey building beside the ramp. This will be the new home for our ticket office, shops, cafés and other facilities.

Thanks for your help

Throughout the planning process, we consulted with hundreds of our customers and neighbours at meetings and drop-in sessions on both sides of the Solent. All opinions, comments and suggestions were taken into account as we drew up our proposals. For example, we changed the design of our boarding lanes at Portsmouth and improved the entrance and exit to our terminal at Fishbourne following comments from local people.

We continue to welcome feedback as the project develops. We will keep you informed of progress on this webpage.

Everyone at Wightlink was pleased to receive unanimous support from members of the planning committees of both Isle of Wight Council and Portsmouth City Council who approved our applications and recognised our investment will benefit tourism and the local economy.

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Frequently asked questions

IFTFGeneral

We will be using sustainable hybrid battery power in our new ship alongside conventional marine gas oil. This will reduce our carbon footprint and we expect it will also make the ship quieter to operate. While this exciting innovation will make our new ship the most environmentally friendly in the Solent, it is a tried and tested technology. Three ferries operated by Caledonian MacBrayne in Scotland already use hybrid power.


19 people found this faq useful.

Red Funnel use a doubledeck system at Southampton and East Cowes. Other examples can also be seen at the Portsmouth International Port, Dover, Cairnryan, Belfast,


17 people found this faq useful.

Terminal lights will be low level to avoid light pollution as far as possible. Double deck loading will reduce the length of time car engines are running. The introduction of double deck loading will also reduce the noise currently associated with moveable car decks.


6 people found this faq useful.

There are lots of reasons why this isn’t a practical option. At the moment, we operate a round trip to and from Fishbourne in just two hours. Using Portsmouth International Port, this would take three hours. We would need extra fuel to make the longer journey, so fares would inevitably rise. To maintain our lifeline service to the Isle of Wight and carry the same amount of traffic, we would have to buy larger ships. Our timetables would be frequently disrupted by the harbour closures caused by Royal Navy ships (delays which cross-Channel ferries can make up on their much longer sailings, but which would affect our customers more severely)


26 people found this faq useful.

We received more than 30 tenders for the work from shipyards around the world. We made our decision based on quality, price and delivery schedules and chose the experienced Cemre shipyard in Turkey. BAE Systems in Portsmouth did not submit a tender.


13 people found this faq useful.

No, and we have no plans to accommodate trailers on our terminals


10 people found this faq useful.

We are keeping Fishbourne Parish Council and ward councillor Ivor Warlow fully briefed on the progress of our plans as well as updating this webpage when we have news to report.


8 people found this faq useful.

Portsmouth Gunwharf FAQ

IFTFGunwharf

There are several reasons why we expect the new facilities to be quieter. At all times, lorries will only use the lower deck of the loading area, which will be screened and so noise will be minimised. The introduction of double deck loading will reduce the noise currently associated with moveable car decks on the ferries.


11 people found this faq useful.

Drivers of all vehicles entering Wightlink’s Gunwharf terminal will be able to wait for their sailing in a much larger area than at present. The new boarding lanes will have space for three ships’ worth of traffic. This means cars, vans and lorries will not cause congestion in Gunwharf Road if there are any delays. In addition, we won’t need to use the car park over the road to store and marshal vehicles as much as we do now.


15 people found this faq useful.

We expect pedestrians will not notice any change. We will only be carrying a maximum of 27 more cars than at present on our largest vessels (the new ship and St Clare) and then only on the busiest sailings such as school holiday weekends.


8 people found this faq useful.

We have worked closely with planners at Portsmouth City Council and heritage experts and the ramp leading to part of the upper deck will resemble the nearby historic dockyard wall. Throughout the process, we have done our best to make our development fit in with our surroundings in old Portsmouth.


10 people found this faq useful.

Fishbourne FAQ

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We will do our best to make sure the new ramp blends into the environment at Fishbourne. We will not be putting advertisements on it and we welcome suggestions from local people about what colour we should paint it.


13 people found this faq useful.

Although some of our neighbours have suggested a new layout for the terminal entrance, we did not include this proposal on our application drawings as we do not own the relevant land. However, we are always happy to consider ideas to improve our facilities and will take suggestions on board if we can.


11 people found this faq useful.

While this is a matter for Island Roads, we would be happy to support residents, if we can.


14 people found this faq useful.

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Investing For The Future, Wightlink Ferries, Gunwharf Road, Portsmouth, PO1 2LA

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