DfT relaxed about overnight changes to Wightlink timetable

One Islander contacted the Department for Transport to ask what they thought of Wightlink timetable changes.

A number of people on the Isle of Wight have expressed concerns since Wightlink announced they planned cuts to overnight Isle of Wight sailings.

Some have taken it upon themselves to explore paths that might encourage Wightlink to modify their plans, including one On The Wight reader who wrote to the Office of Fair Trading about it.

DfT response
They recently received a reply from the Department for Transport, which they’ve forwarded to us (below).

The DfT cite Andrew Turner’s 2009, ultimately-unsuccessful, attempt to get the Office of Fair Trading involved in Isle of Wight ferry pricing, pointing out that, while any individual is able to refer items to the OFT, “the fact that there are three providers of cross Solent services, and that Wightlink alone currently operates 230 daily crossings it may be difficult to argue the case that the Isle of Wight citizens have inadequate ferry provision even if some of the unsocial hours services have been curtailed.”

Image: Google Street View

Wednesday, 2nd January, 2013 1:46pm


ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2ano

Filed under: Ferry, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Top story

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Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.


  1. Better Red than Bled

    2.Jan.2013 2:06pm

    Perhaps some one should ask Lord Oakshott of Seaview, he seems to be the only person in Power that speaks for the island. |Just odd I don’t remember seeing his name on the Ballot!

  2. Well done the person who wrote the letter.which in effect challenges the government over our right to freely travel.The reply from the DFT shows that the government is abdicating its responsibility to islanders. It ends up by saying, “try your luck with Europe”, which has wider implications. We will not be put off by these attempts to sideline or undermine us and we will be discussing our demands and how to further them. It is crucial for us to do it.

  3. wightywight

    2.Jan.2013 5:45pm


    Where is this bridge gonna go…?

    I mean, specifically…from where on the Island to where on the mainland…..


    • Really good question. There is an assumption that there will be enough space on this side of the water for the huge amount of structure that will be required to span high enough to clear the shipping. It also makes the assumption that people who live on the mainland will want a bridge in their back yard too.

      If there was to be any sort of fixed link, I feel a tunnel would be most likely, and a rail tunnel at that. Can’t see any environmental study backing more traffic here at all!

    • Mike recently made it clear he has nothing to say about any details regarding a bridge, so it’s clearly just a case of his playing silly bs. My advice: don’t be manipulated by him!

      • Can we get back ‘on topic’ please ?
        It’s important we address the immediate Wightlink issue without being side-tracked …

        • biggmarket

          2.Jan.2013 11:46pm

          Trouble is looking at it from an outsider’s view the Island does do well from the ferry point of view. There are three operators and during the daytime there are at least 5 crossings an hour even in winter. Certainly I know of no other Island sailings around these shores with as many sailings to choose from.

          My only observation to Whitehall would be to point out that Islands like Jersey, Guernsey, Mull and Lewis(not to mention the Isle of Man) have air services to the mainland. The IOW does not.

          • Then, bigmarket, is it something about the history of expectations that marks a difference in the Island, compared with the islands you have mentioned? Perhaps they have accepted a more self-contained life, with higher incomes in some of those places (tax havens), affording airflights as required,

            If we are not to continue having early early or late late sailings, we are going to have to change our expectations of what life here is about.

            But is there a way for the 3 operators to get together over these sailings? They could organise shuttles between themselves, early & late, & make a coherent service, maybe…..

          • wightywight

            3.Jan.2013 12:10pm


            Well, that’s not entirely accurate for vehicle travel…..and I suspect the issues that have/do arise with (strangely it seems only…..) Wightlink is to do with vehicle crossings. Foot passengers seem well served and, it seems, are not overcharged.
            However, I would add that the only connection between any of the Islands you have mentioned is……….the word *Island*.
            There really is no comparison with other islands and the Isle of wight. Distance from mainland, tax (haven) situation but…..mostly……. there are no islands with 125,000 inhabitants who also receive in excess of 2.5 million visitors a year.
            This alone puts this island in a very unique position compared to other islands “..around these shores”.
            It’s a matter of subjective assessment but, Wightlink are a hairs breadth away from being a monopoly and most people understand that. Getting those regulators to see this however is an entirely different matter.
            Taking this matter to a certain extreme, at what point (if ever?) would the service provided by Wightlink start to terminally affect the well being of the Island and its’ population…? Would one ferry a day work? 5 ferries…? 10 …? clearly not. So what number of ferries supports the Island as a viable geographical entity…?
            Have you noticed, for excample, that to encourage very, very late travel, or very, very early travel, or middle of the night travel….the prices seem to remain the same?
            Yet we appear to have gone from claims of no passengers on the *last* ferries to cancelling the ferries without attempting to encourage passengers on a reduced cost basis.
            I suspect the nature of the beast is that the *last* ferries will always be poorly used for a number of reasons. Not wanting to miss the last ferry back to the Island is quite a compelling reason to ‘book’ the last but one ferry, for example. Timetables also impact. If you run 9.30pm then 12.00pm Portsmouth to Fishbourne (then 3.00am) you will probably get many, many more going on the 9.30pm leaving the 12.00pm relatively empty.
            I suggest you would have a more even spread of passengers if you had a more even spread of ferries (like during the day) at *off peak* times.
            Whatever. This Island is unique and deserves unique solutions. Wightlink are not going to give that it appears.


  4. Black Dog

    3.Jan.2013 10:04am

    BOYCOTT BOYCOTT BOYCOTT. Just look at the impact people power had and continues to have on Starbucks.

    The DfT and Europe are nothing compared to the power or our wallets and purses.

    • But, Black Dog, wouldn’t a big company like Mac(whatever it is) probably then say ‘F- it’ & just close down here altogether…?

      • wightywight

        3.Jan.2013 12:47pm

        mac (whatever it is..)!! have made a very big (too big actually, but that’s another matter)investment here and won’t just throw that down the tubes. They might be *persuaded to sell* by public actions but…I’m doubtful.
        The problem here is that there are too many visitors who wouldn’t (probably) become embroiled in a ‘boycott’ campaign and I’m not sure enough Island(er) trips being boycotted would impact enough to make change.
        All of these things, of course, point to the very dominant position in the market this company has. It really is a stones throw from being a monopoly…
        I like Mikes’ (was it mike?) angle with the company operating out of Guernsey…a well known tax haven. This is running akin to the other Luxembourg companies trading in the UK (such as starbucks) but paying tax where they are based…..
        I wonder just how much actual travel journeys they would have to lose before the company started to make a loss….it might not actually be that many per day…


      • Black Dog

        3.Jan.2013 2:10pm

        If the parent company shuts down they would be looking to sell the asset. Islanders can form a cooperative and purchase the company assets.

        The Parent company will not shut things down, they will sell if they can not make a profit – They make too much money from the Isle of wight. It is their interest to work with Islanders and Island Companies As 5% of something is better than 100% of nothing

        We do not need the Boy Blunder’s secret team (more profiteers) as this would be a real Public Company providing a Public Service.

        Funding can always be sought from Europe under the assisted area status route.

        • As long as it’s not run by the Council!

          • I haven’t heard anything yet to say that my idea of the 3 companies working together (with the bus companies, perhaps), to provide an early morning & night time shuttle service between the destination points, isn’t worth looking into. If the alternative is zilch, we may be glad of that, at least….

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