'˜Hovertravel plan must focus on high speed direct link between Portsmouth and Southampton'

THE leader of Portsmouth City Council believes the proposed creation of a new hovercraft route must primarily serve Portsmouth and Southampton only.

Thursday, 14th July 2016, 6:01 am
The new Hovertravel hovercraft Solent Flyer

Councillor Donna Jones says Hovertravel should seek to only look at rolling out a high-speed link between the two cities – as that will be key to getting commuters off the roads.

The senior Tory says extra hovercraft stops could be included down the line if there’s demand – but getting a journey in place that takes 30 minutes or less is a priority.

It comes after Hovertravel revealed it is working up a bid to the government for funding to turn the plan – the brainchild of Cllr Jones – into a reality.

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She believes Hovertravel’s Southsea terminal is the perfect site for commuters to get on from the Portsmouth side – and putting in pontoons near the Hard Interchange will not be needed.

Cllr Jones said: ‘When I met the company and spoke about this idea, it was me speaking about the importance and potential for a Portsmouth to Southampton route.

‘Hovertravel already operates a service to Ryde.

‘The company suggested a triangle route, between Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight.

‘But I said the key is to improve commuter journey times.

‘Ultimately the company will need to decide what is the most profitable option for it.’

Cllr Jones fears that putting in additional stops at sites like Daedalus – an idea backed by Fareham Borough Council leader Cllr Sean Woodward – could lead to the hovercraft journey to Southampton taking upwards of 45 minutes and people would just stick to taking the motorway instead.

The service could potentially run from Southsea to a landing pad near 
Southampton’s Red Funnel Terminal.

As reported, a 12-month trial could happen using two Hovertravel 135-seater craft that are currently not in operation, giving people enough time to change their travel habits and allow the project to bed in.

Both of Portsmouth’s MPs, Penny Mordaunt and Flick Drummond, have backed the project and say it’s another way road congestion could finally be tackled.

Hovertravel is currently developing a business case to present to the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, which has access to government funds.