Cross-Solent ferry firms apologise after criticism from MP over poor service

A Wightlink ferry
A Wightlink ferry

CROSS-Solent ferry firms have apologised after an MP raised concerns over the operators ability to provide services from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight.

Bob Seely, MP for the island, criticised Wightlink, Hovertravel and Red Funnel following a catalogue of disruptions caused by ‘technical and mechanical faults, legal issues and accidents’ since August.

Cancellations ‘necessary or not’ caused by the weather were also highlighted as further cause for concern.

In a letter addressed to the three companies, Mr Seely said the public were losing confidence in the services. He wrote: ‘Many islanders are concerned by your ability to get people and vehicles to and from the island without delays or cancellations.

‘I should not need to state the need for a reliable service for islanders, regardless of whether they are going to the mainland for medical, business or other reasons. An unreliable service damages the island and harms islanders.

‘Delays also have knock-on effects for those using other forms of public transport.’

In response to Mr Seely’s complaints, Wightlink chief executive, Keith Greenfield wrote: ‘I share your disappointment that Wightlink has not provided the high level of reliability that our customers rightly expect of us and want to take this opportunity to make a full apology to everyone who has been affected by delays and cancellations on our services. I understand your anger and frustration.’

Neil Chapman, managing director of Hovertravel, responded: ‘The entire team at Hovertravel are totally committed to ensure continual improvement to our services and once again we sincerely apologise for any disruption our customers may have experienced.’

Fran Collins, chief executive officer of Red Funnel – which runs from Southampton to the island – said her company was investigating accidents in the Medina before adding: ‘We apologise to those passengers who have experienced disruption on our services recently.’

Following the responses, the MP said he welcomed the action being taken by the companies before issuing them with a warning. 

Mr Seely said: ‘I am pleased that all the operators are taking their responsibility for these incidents seriously and that they understand passengers’ frustrations and anger over what has happened over the last few months.

‘I have noted what all three companies have said but I will continue to monitor their performance.’