Hovertravel is forced to suspend weekend services

114119-8283 HOVERTRAVEL (PM) MRW ''Suspended ! Hovertravel services on the Southsea/Ryde/Southsea crossing '''Picture: Malcolm Wells (114119-8283)
114119-8283 HOVERTRAVEL (PM) MRW ''Suspended ! Hovertravel services on the Southsea/Ryde/Southsea crossing '''Picture: Malcolm Wells (114119-8283)
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PASSENGERS for a hovercraft service face disruption this weekend with safety concerns leading to the service being suspended.

All hovercrafts, which travel between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, have been cancelled since 6pm yesterday.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) suspended two craft – Freedom 90 and Island Express – after concerns over the propellers.

It came after the propeller of a third craft, Solent Express, snapped off on October 30.

Up to 48 services a day between Southsea seafront and Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, have been cancelled, while the problem is being dealt with.

A spokesman for Hovertravel, which runs the service, said: ‘Following an issue with a propeller on the Solent Express Hovercraft on October 30, further safety checks are to be undertaken to ensure the continued safety of Hovertravel’s fleet.

‘Hovertravel is working with the MCA, the regulatory authority, and hopes to restore a full service as soon as possible.

‘It is important to stress the current fleet are different models to the one in service on October 30.

‘As a mandatory measure we’re required to ensure the integrity of all our operating systems in conjunction with the MCA.

‘The safety of customers, crew and hovercraft are of paramount importance.

‘We are deeply sorry for any inconvenience this matter has caused our passengers, and are grateful for their understanding.’

A replacement bus service to The Hard has been laid on, so people can use the ferry to cross the Solent, at no extra charge.

The Schafer family of Bembridge, Isle of Wight, use the service daily.

Josef, 55, said: ‘My sons go to Mayville High School, so either myself or my wife escort them. They have a drama class today, so this will effect us.

‘The hovercraft takes 10 minutes, whereas the ferry takes 20 minutes, so we will face some delay.’

For travel updates visit hovertravel.com.

Hovertravel information

HOVERTRAVEL operates the world’s longest-running commercial service. It is also the only scheduled passenger hovercraft service in Europe.

It is the fastest way to travel across the Solent – with the journey time being less than 10 minutes.

The company was established in 1965, and since then more than 26 million people have used the service.

The firm’s most recent craft, Solent Express, was introduced in 2007.

It was the first model to be designed and built by sister company Hoverwork, which now trades under Griffon Hoverwork Ltd.

The craft weighs 75 tonnes, carries 130 passengers and can travel at a speed of 45 knots.