Hovercraft plan to link cities makes perfect sense

Anyone who has to commute from Portsmouth to Southampton, or vice versa, will probably tell you with very little prompting how much of that time they spend stuck in traffic.

Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 6:24 am
Sid James and Barbara Windsor

The M27 at rush hour is notorious for being a glorified car park.

Anything that can improve the situation on south Hampshire’s main traffic artery is to be welcomed.

But will a hovercraft service between the cities provide the answer?

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It’s not the first time something similar has been mooted – Red Funnel trialled a Southampton-Gosport service in 2003.

And in 2011 Transport for South Hampshire looked at a water bus to link the two cities.

So why would this succeed where others have failed?

The early signs are promising. Hovertravel is already keen and says that two vessels from its fleet could be used, massively reducing start-up costs.

Southsea already has a hovercraft terminal, but it will be interesting to see how the firm plans to integrate this service with an already-busy crossing to the Isle of Wight.

Southampton, however, has no existing terminal, but there is talk of one being included at the Red Funnel site.

With the Solent on our doorstep, it is a natural – in every sense – resource and in many respects it’s a surprise that no-one has ever been able to make a scheme such as this work in the past.

Councillor Donna Jones’ assertion that the plan would reduce traffic by 20 per cent does strike one as a rather high figure, though. That sounds like an awful lot more than two hovercraft zipping up and down the Solent, even if the journey time is a mere 28 minutes.

Whatever the actual figure, it would be great to see the scheme fly after so many false starts.