AMBITIOUS plans for a ferry route between Portsmouth and Southampton are being considered by Wightlink.
The route could hold the key to reducing traffic congestion between the two cities.
Wightlink’s ferry terminal in Gunwharf Quays is undergoing major investment, which will see its capacity increased, and managing director Keith Greenfield said that exploring links to Southampton would be next on his agenda.
Mr Greenfield said: ‘It’s worth checking out. We’re happy to look at the logistics. It would depend on how many people are wanting to make that journey.
‘How many people want to go to central Southampton and how many people live near the centre of Portsmouth? It is something that we’re exploring.’
Mr Greenfield said he expected a ferry would take about 45 minutes to reach Southampton, with a 15-minute turnaround time.
Portsmouth’s council leader Donna Jones is backing the idea.
Cllr Jones, who is also a local authority director on the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, has met Mr Greenfield to pursue the Wightlink possibilities.
She said: ‘I’m hopeful of a positive outcome for what would be the first water link between the two cities.
‘The majority of cities around the world, such as Hong Kong, are using their waterways effectively.
‘In the Solent we have such congestion on the roads, which is failing business and residents on a daily basis.
‘Using our water more would help improve that.
‘It’s a vital and essential component to increase growth in the Solent region.’
Fareham’s council leader Sean Woodward, who is also a local authority director on the Solent LEP, welcomed the news.
He said: ‘It’s important to get commuters out of their cars.
‘Everybody is on the roads when they should be on the water.
‘If we have got entrepreneurial companies like Wightlink, Hovercraft or Red Funnel willing to explore this then that should be actively encouraged. The water is our most under-used resource for moving commuters around in the Solent area.’
Mr Greenfield said: ‘The better the infrastructure is, the better it is for business.
‘We’re very conscious of the role that we are playing in the Portsmouth economy. We are intending to grow and that would be good for Portsmouth.’
A HOVERCRAFT connection between Portsmouth and Southampton is another option being explored to beat congestion.
A state-of-the-art Hovertravel service linking the two cities is being considered.
Hovertravel is hoping to secure government funding for the project to make it a reality.
The service could potentially run from Southsea to a landing pad near Southampton’s Red Funnel Terminal, taking about 30 minutes.