FastCat to be suspended after 80 per cent drop in passenger numbers during lockdown

Wightlink say it’s not sustainable to run loss-making services with such low numbers of customers, and announced changes to FastCat and Yarmouth routes

new fastcat catamarans

Wightlink regrets it will suspend its Portsmouth Harbour-Ryde Pier Head FastCat foot passenger route from the last sailing on Friday 13 November 2020 because of lockdown restrictions on non-essential travel. 

Wightlink will also be reducing its Lymington-Yarmouth car ferry sailings to a weekday-only two-hourly service following the last sailing on Friday 13 November 2020. 

These changes are being made because very few people need to cross the Solent at present. It is not sustainable to run loss-making services with such low numbers of customers.   

Other routes
Wightlink’s Portsmouth-Fishbourne route will continue as an hourly service. 

From Monday 16 November 2020, the Lymington-Yarmouth timetable will be amended to support Island students who need to attend classes on the mainland. The first weekday sailing from Yarmouth will depart at 07:30 instead of 06:25. 

Greenfield: Will restore services as soon as they become sustainable
Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield says,

“We are sorry to suspend our FastCats and reduce sailings between Lymington and Yarmouth, however we will still be able to transport all essential travellers and supplies to the Isle of Wight on our remaining services. 

“We will continue to monitor demand with a view to restoring services as soon as they become sustainable.  Wightlink continue to work closely with the Isle of Wight Council Transport Infrastructure Board and the other cross Solent operators to make sure the Island has the essential services it needs at this difficult time.” 

Passengers down by 80 per cent
FastCat passenger numbers have now declined by 80 per cent compared to last year. Although they can carry 230 people, most sailings have fewer than 20 on board and sometimes single figures. 

On the Lymington-Yarmouth route, numbers of cars are now down by 65 per cent compared to last year. Ferries on this route are designed to carry up to 65 cars but most sailings at the weekend carried fewer than 10 and in some cases no vehicles at all. 

Under the leadership of Isle of Wight Council during the pandemic, all cross-Solent operators continue to work together to keep the Island connected.

Tickets accepted on other routes
As part of this co-operation, Wightlink’s foot passenger tickets will be accepted on Red Funnel and Hovertravel.

This includes rail tickets and season tickets. 

News shared by Karen on behalf of Wightlink. Ed

Image: davidcjones under CC BY 2.0

Tuesday, 10th November, 2020 12:19pm



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

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4 Comments on "FastCat to be suspended after 80 per cent drop in passenger numbers during lockdown"

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I can’t help but wonder if the staff concerned have been furloughed, and taxpayers are kinda funding Wightlink to have the ferries sat idle.

But then I’m real cynical.


I suspect that’s exactly what’s happened,why should Wightlink miss out on the cash this ‘government’is throwing around like confetti to all it’s mates.


Well done Wightlink,think of the shareholders first


They have no obligation to do otherwise