Letter: Cross-Isle of Wight rail tunnel would provide 21st century access to national infrastructure

This reader believes a cross-Wight tunnel from Ryde to Yarmouth could relieve congestion, boost tourism and provide 21st century access to national public infrastructure.

Crossrail elizabeth line tracks approaching royal oak portal

We always welcome a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers – unsurprisingly they don’t always reflect the views of this publication. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch and of course, your considered comments are welcome below. This by Cathy Foulkes from Ryde. Ed

I eagerly offer my time to participate in a feasibility study into a fixed link (as recommended by the Garnett report into the Isle of Wight infrastructure).

The scope of such a study will, I hope, look seriously at the massively reduced costs (in relative terms) of tunnelling since the last feasibility report in 1996.

Cross-Wight rail tunnel
A rail tunnel through the Solent and across the Island would give us a sustainable connection to the national infrastructure from which we have allowed ourselves to be forgotten.

South Western Railway - Cross Wight rail project

The price of our neglect has been high – socially, educationally and economically and should be addressed with a demand as tax payers right, the right to 21st century access to national public infrastructure and services.

Calling any engineering geologists
I’d like to contribute to such a campaign, but have no time to lead one – anyone else agree and have time out there?

Is there an engineering geologist out there who would take up my idea (crudely represented above) and look at the Fratton junction area for tunnel submersion, and re-emersion at Lymington.

Stations would be small at surface and access the rail by escalators at Portsmouth and Southsea, Ryde Esplanade (where the neglected Ryde Arena site on the Esplanade offers opportunity for an interchange with existing rail, hovercraft, bus and taxi ranks).

Ryde Arena aerial view

Tourism boost
Above ground level at Ryde might make a 5* Hotel which the Island sorely lacks looking towards Ryde Pier.

Tourists once again just come with suitcases and bikes to help reinvigorate the serviced tourist economy of the Sandown Bay and beyond.

Islandline at Ryde

The congestion suffered on the roads of Newport would be significantly relieved, and the eco-aspirations of sustainable development rewarded by locating the many thousands of houses we must build nearer to infrastructure for commuting to and from the mainland.

Image: © Crossrail by Monica Wells

Friday, 29th December, 2017 8:40am


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

Filed under: Island-wide, Letter to the Editor

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

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15 Comments on "Letter: Cross-Isle of Wight rail tunnel would provide 21st century access to national infrastructure"

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Some 30 miles of tunnel, including two submarine tunnels, providing a foot-passenger only service to one very small, and two small-to-medium sized towns???

If a road fixed-link is not commercially viable then this certainly isn’t, I’m afraid.


Had to look at my calender twice, for a moment i thought it was April 1st.


Wasn’t this in the CP a few weeks back? It doesn’t seem to be any more feasible than it was then.

Simon Perry
Yes, it was in the CP. We thought it was an interesting talking point and what with the weekly paper sales continuing to drop (under 24k, the most recent figures show (PDF)), we thought it would be worth presenting to a wider audience. Having spoke to Cathy in advance of publishing, the idea behind this is a starting point for discussion about the Island making itself fit… Read more »
Rupert Besley
I’m not sure that side-swipe there at the CP is really justified or even in your own best interest. It comes across to me as a bit of gratuitous point-scoring and denigration of the paper (things which you have assured me in the past you do not do). Yes, of course, as we all know, the circulation of the CP has taken a hit over the last… Read more »
Simon Perry

You’re appearing slightly over-sensitive on this, but leaping to the defence to an organisation that puts food on your table perhaps isn’t surprising.

I was merely pointing out that perhaps not everyone on the Isle of Wight had seen it, so we were running it to widen discussion.

Ms Foulkes draws our attention to the polarisation of this discussion between partisans supporting either a road tunnel or a road bridge. Her suggestion takes us forward to a time when any of these projects might, just might, becomer affordable. Let’s look at the best solution for the future. This rail plan is realistic, achievable and in the best interests of Islanders and visitors. As tunnelling costs… Read more »
Great idea, it will ease congestion on both sides of the Solent, it will ease traffic congestion on our most used highways. Parking would only be required for those from surrounding areas, most would walk to the station. Trains are archaic? HS2, Crossrail are these archaic? And I run to a timetable when I’m using my car, the state of our traffic congestion requires military planning and… Read more »

Grow up.
Any fixed-link idea is simply not feasible economically or logistically. And if one existed, ferry fares would RISE substantially, not fall.
While this idea is in play it diverts energy from the Island doing other things to help its economic future.


Astonishing how much extra authority and gravitas your argument gains by starting it with a crude insults.

Doesn’t make you sound like boorish knuckle-dragger at all……

There will not be an island to mainland fixed link. Forget comparisons to Eurotunnel. That is NOT a road tunnel, and after decades and even with income from Eurostar, still has not broken even. A road tunnel would present even greater challenges to engineering and finance. A bridge would also be a non-starter, because of the need to allow the Solent to be navigable. There would also,… Read more »

Trains are archaic and expensive and run on timetables which makes travel longer and would require massive car parking at all connections ..It would be quicker and far cheaper to construct just road tunnels to connect the Island ..10 minutes by car better than two hours by ferry …when there not cancelled or having technical difficulties

With good intermodal arrangements and the forced co-operation of buses, there would NOT need to be “massive car parking”. Pedestrian access to trains by lift and/or escalators can be placed practically anywhere at little cost. Now here’s a thought: once a rail link is running and serving mainly day-time traffic, how about a night-time container service for freight? How many supermarket trucks could that take off the… Read more »
Why would ferry fares rise? Because something like 70% of the ferries’ companies costs are fixed-infrastructure, fuel and so on. When they fix fares they do it on an assumption of a certain volume of sales, so each ticket contributes to covering those fixed costs. That’s why they can offer promotional fares. Because they project they will largely have fixed costs covered, so extra business is largely… Read more »

If you trouble to read the Red Funnel archives they issued a statement some years ago making clear that Summer tourist traffic was subsidising their uneconomic Winter sailings.

When we get our road tunnel there will no longer be any necessity for this and both ferry companies will be free to offer genuinely competitive prices and axe unprofitable sailings.

A win/win situation all round.