Solent Tunnel: Proposed entrance and exit locations revealed

The proposed entrance and exit locations for the Solent Tunnel have been revealed, with detail on developments being made towards a fixed link between the Isle of Wight and mainland.

Artists impression of the Solent Freedom Tunnel portal at Whippingham, IOW.

Artists impression of the Solent Freedom Tunnel portal at Whippingham.

Carl shares this latest news from Able Connections Ltd. Ed

The Able Connections proposal is to create a new North-South axis through the centre of the Solent region by constructing a tunnel from the M27 east of junction 9 to the Whippingham roundabout on the Isle of Wight, with an additional access intersection ‘cut and cover’ portal near the mainland coast between Browndown and Meon (options being discussed).

The scheme brings a range of benefits to the region, including a step change in the connectivity of the Solent’s emerging mass transit public transport network, reduced highway congestion, reduced HGVs in city centres, new habitat for wildlife and public amenity, agglomeration benefits for industries in the Aerospace, Marine Defence and Composites sectors and other major employers in south Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, as well as improved accessibility for tourists to the Island.

The scheme has the potential to be largely self-funding.

Benefits for mainland
Although the scheme arose from the “PRO-LINK” lobby group on the Isle of Wight, and the benefits to the Island are enormous, the impacts and benefits on the mainland side are easily as large.

Specifically, the scheme addresses highway capacity in the Fareham/ Titchfield/ Stubbington corridor, potentially reduces HGV movements through the centres of Southampton and Portsmouth and provides a line of route for the Eclipse BRT from Daedalus EZ to a new interchange hub with the proposed phase two metro to Segensworth.

Benefits for Island
Agglomeration benefits arise by bringing the large integrators on the Medina Valley closer to their supply chain in South Hampshire.

All of this is on top of journey-time savings for existing cross-Solent travel estimated in accordance with DfT methodology to be worth in the range £38m – £64m per year.

Discussions with relevant local authorities
We have had conversations so far with officers from Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton, Isle of Wight and Fareham councils; Solent Transport; the MPs for Gosport and the Isle of Wight (and would have met Fareham too had the election not been called), and various Island councillors and stakeholders which are all encouraging.

Feasibility study required
The next stage of work is to seek public support for a feasibility study (funded either privately or publicly) to prove our assumptions about usage and construction costs.

The CGI artist’s impression of the Isle of Wight tunnel at Whippingham, produced for Able Connections, is intended to portray the opportunities that this project can facilitate, for both Islanders and also those on the mainland too.

Image: © Able Communications Ltd

Friday, 19th May, 2017 8:03am



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

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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. Seriously?

    You think with a £58b deficit the government will pay for this white elephant?

  2. Dear Mr Fenney

    Before you waste anymore of everybodies time you need to ask every Island resident if they are prepared to pay £50 or more to get off the island and £50 to come back.

    The bridge/tunnel from Denmark to Malmo, Sweden is £60 each way every time you use it.

    Crossings have to have tolls paid and unless people are willing to pay them this is a ………….. pipedream!

    • jasoncarter

      19.May.2017 8:50am

      For the sake of accuracy that’s not true. The turn up on the day cash price is £40 for a single crossing, cheaper if prebooked. Most regular users use the Bropass system which means you pay £20 or £10 if you return within 6 hours. It’s also not a bridge linking an island to a mainland, so isn’t the best analogy. Perhaps you could look at the effect the Ölandsbron bridge had when that was built, linking Öland to Kalmar.

    • Suruk the Impolite

      19.May.2017 11:07am

      I think a *lot* of people would be willing to pay even that price.

      No queuing up. No cancellations. Ability to travel at the time I like 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

      Imagine coming back tired from holiday or a business trip, arriving at the ferry port and finding its delayed and the next crossing isn’t for over an hour which you may or may not get on.

      Yeah, I absolutely would pay that £50.

  3. At £50 each way this is broadly comparable to ferry fares.

    At least with a tunnel we will all be able to travel at will without all that hassle of booking ferries, spending the night in one of their desolate car parks, having to drive through city centres like Lewis Hamilton on steroids just to catch a ferry, worries about cancellations, delays weather etc. etc.

    Infrastructure funds of £ 483 Bn apparently available so funding no problem. Other off shore islands have found themselves in circumstances to ourselves, none of them appear to be asking for their fixed links to be removed.

    What we really need is a wide ranging feasibility study considering all available cross Solent transport options and their impacts.

  4. I only pay £26 per crossing and that includes full car of passengers.

  5. This is a fantastic opportunity for the IW house builders too, as demand for accommodation would undoubtedly rise as the island would rapidly become a suburb of Southampton and Portsmouth. The knock-on effect for retailers would likewise be good and, of course, they’d be able to get their goods onto the island much more efficiently. St. Mary’s hospital could probably be closed, saving a fair bit, with access to Southampton hospital much easier. I think closure of the loss-making Island Line should be seriously considered (probably going to happen anyway), which would allow the existing route to be converted into a bypass road, keeping the inevitable increase in traffic away from the centres. Bring it on.

    • I thought the fixed link argument is that the ferries are environmently unfriendly?

      So you propose to close Islandline, and run cars along it instead?

      Also will a fixed link be cheaper and quicker for someone getting from Shanklin to Portsmouth.. Currently £20 a day return without a railcard, £14 with..and it takes approximately 50mins!!
      Not a very well thought out statement.

    • St.Mary’s hospital closed? So a blood test or a visit to an in-patient would cost one a £100? And each ambulance trip to A&E would also cost an extra £100? And each of those ambulances would very likely be delayed by the heavy traffic on the Southampton roads?
      Not a good prospect.

    • Demand for houses on the Island would undoubtedly rise? Then the prices would rise too. Even less chance for first time buyers to get a foot on the ladder then.

      • Suruk the Impolite

        20.May.2017 9:59am

        Or…..It would dissuade wealthy retirees from moving here, pushing house prices up and increasing the burden on an already overstretched health service.

        There is more than one scenario.

  6. It’s happening around the world to great success. Pipedreams ? Historically pipedreams have become a successful reality so that previous comment is utterly ridiculous. This island will continue to die if we continue to separate ourselves from the UK . We are the united kingdom 1st and can offer a great service to the country as much as a link would improve life on this cemetery.

  7. teggieiow

    19.May.2017 9:19am

    How can you announce the entrance and exit when no feasibility study has been done ?
    I commute to Southampton everyday and there would be no time or cost saving for me taking into account being sat in traffic on the m27, fuel, parking etc
    Nonsense …

    • Suruk the Impolite

      19.May.2017 1:19pm

      You commute as a foot passenger by Red Jet.

      You are not comparing like with like.

      Suppose you had to get to a meeting in Oxford?

      By public transport:
      3.5 hours

      By car and Red Funnel:
      3 Hours

      By Fixed link:
      Approx 1 Hour 50 minutes

      And that is assuming the ferries are running on time and there is actually a ferry at the time you want to travel.

      • I regularly commute to an office just north of Oxford and 3-4hrs from door to door is the journey time. For me that means leaving the house at 5AM and getting home at 8:30PM

        If there was a fixed link this would be 6AM, or later and home by 7:30, or earlier.

        Best we don’t talk of the days when there’s an incident on the A34 and I arrive at the ferry terminal at about half seven and have to wait until the 9PM boat and get home at 10:30.

        The cuts in journey times are the sorts of differences which would allow more businesses to consider employing people from the Isle of Wight, unlike most of them, who throw IW resident’s applications in the bin, because ‘surely you won’t be able to commute reliably etc’.

        Until we address cross-Solent connectivity with a fixed link the income potential for IW residents will remain reduced because of the huge disadvantage created by the ferries.

        • Suruk the Impolite

          20.May.2017 9:45am

          Oh, absolutely.

          Delayed in a meeting. An hour and a half journey to Southampton to find you have just missed the 19:15

          You now have an hour and three quarters wait until the next crossing.

          So an hour and a half from Oxford to Southampton.

          Two and three quarter hours from Southampton to Cowes. And that is if there aren’t any other problems or delays.

          I’d gladly pay £50 each way to avoid that!!!

          And it would force the ferry companies to rethink their policies of reducing crossings to the level where it can, indeed, take longer to cross the Solent that it does to drive halfway up the country!!!

  8. Simon Haytack

    19.May.2017 12:17pm

    Is this just another desperate attempt to keep the issue in the public eye? No mention of who’s going to fork out the cost, or why anyone would fork out billions just to enable islanders to get to West Quay or to work slightly faster.

    Commuters and travellers on the mainland constantly face issues with rip off fares, disruptions and cancellations on trains, so we’re far from unique on this.

    • Our uniqueness is within the fact that we are much worse affected than mainland commuters.

      What about the cost of moving freight on and off the IW?

      What about better access to public services?

      Why can you think any bigger than me, me, me?

  9. Lets get the Island back to a vibrant place to visit, get the engineers and start digging. The Isle of Wight has become a back water with ferry companies holding us to ransom, we need a more secure link than at present, a tunnel for me is the best idea as it has less visual impact than a bridge.

  10. No feasibility study, no impact analysis, no real plans at all. Just more fake news about this idea that will be very unlikely to ever happen.

  11. Would this have a toll booth/ticket office? If so, where would the traffic go whilst it queued up? Or ANPR and pre paid via a website?
    Is the dual carriage way as pictured for all traffic, or split for cars smaller vehicles, and lorries on the other side? I’d assume with this design there must be quite a sizeable land footprint near the entrance? And just for clarity – Whippingham Roundabout, is that what I call East Cowes roundabout just before the Race Course stretch of road? If so, that looks like it’s just about to be built on judging by the Hose Rhodes Dickson signage that’s there.

  12. Yes please! The toll booth at Itchen Bridge doesn’t have queues! Why are people loooking for problems with small details when we need a feasibility study to get it moving? If you want this island to survive, please lobby the election candidates, because that is the only way to get the ball rolling and settle the petty arguments.

  13. I keep hearing that the Island is dying as a tourist venue. Shops closing, hotels closing etc. With all due respect, if a fixed link is the answer to these woes, why is it that traditional seaside holiday towns up and down the country are suffering similar downturns? There’s no water surrounding those towns. Surely the rise of the cheap package holiday has more to with it than the cost and inconvenience of a car ferry

  14. josturmey

    19.May.2017 4:44pm

    😂 people have been talking about a fixed link for well over 50 years and we all know that in 50 years time that’s what it will be … just talk.

  15. chrissy2712

    19.May.2017 8:01pm

    I wonder how many people would lose their homes to make space to build the entrance to the tunnel

  16. The illustration looks awful and does not blend in with the Island’s landscape.

    I see the entrance to the tunnel east of M27 Jn 9 is near Titchfield. Are the dreamers proposing to run the Litchfield Thunderbolt through the tunnel?

  17. Sorry that should read Titchfield Thunderbolt – typo error which I corrected and the system didn’t

  18. I’ve had a rethink, the fixed link’s a waste of time and money and soon to be obsolete. Why? Flying cars are just around the corner in the technological world. Take off from your driveway and land anywhere you like. Fixed link schtink.

  19. The proposed fixed link is only useful if you want to go in that direction. Why would I want to go Eastwards for over 10 miles past Newport traffic jams, then north to the M27 etc, in order to get to Barton-on-Sea? I live four miles from Yarmouth – it is a more pleasant journey to Lymington etc.
    When in Mallaig I noted that a ferry still runs to Skye despite their bridge. At the moment we use all three routes – Red Funnel for Oxfordshire, Fishbourne for Gatwick or Essex and Yarmouth for West country. I would like to keep that choice.

  20. Hi Carl

    Well done with your continued efforts to get a fixed link. This is an emotive topic for islanders on both sides of the argument.

    I believe in including traffic benefits to Portsmouth and Fareham area and further collaboration with the mainland you are onto a scheme that could benefit the Solent area.

    Red Funnel profits were up 15% last year traffic/visitor numbers are increasing, the island population is growing. Business is investing in the island and it is becoming a more desirable destination and beginning to lose it’s run down 70’s image.

    The Council are basically bankrupt and there would be some cost savings in services from a fixed link. If I lived in Southampton or Portsmouth I would be a lot more likely to visit the island if I could drive there in 20 minutes rather than take a ferry. To save an hour for most visitors coming from the South East would make a huge difference.

    Obviously there will be negative impacts but the economic impact would be considerable that is important for those commuting and enabling families to stay on the island. The benefits would be felt in the whole Solent area. Adding the development of Fawley and it is mostly retired residents who wouldn’t see the benefits as the island would be busier. Whilst I understand people don’t like change and we only had a ferry when you moved here argument. Please note you like changes that generally make life easier, how is a fixed link going to make life worse for the majority?

    I moved here as I love the island, if there is no fixed link fine, but it seems inward and regressive to not want the island to become a more successful holiday destination, a more desirable place to live and improve the economic prospects for those living here. Even if I were retired, I would like to believe I would have the strength to vote for a fixed link for the younger generation and accept there would be some negative impacts and work with minimising them rather than being against them.

    Best wishes to those on both sides of the argument.

    The Denmark Malmo bridge is 5 miles long and there is also a 2.5 mile tunnel. It appears to be twice the scale of this scheme or am I missing something?

    Could commercial vehicles only be allowed to use the link at restricted times i.e. not in peak commuter times, perhaps a discount for deliveries at night?

    I would think the NHS, the council, the police and fire brigade would be very pro-fixed link and Southampton and Portsmouth would compete to attract it if they thought it was likely to happen.

    Interesting topic, sorry for long ramble

  21. deepsouthalverstone

    23.May.2017 5:05am

    Being familiar with suggested tunnels and controversial road projects in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, I suggest you need to ask three things of the proponents; what is the business plan, what is the business plan, and what is the business plan? If it’s a toll road, what are their projected traffic volumes? Does the company have a history of over-inflating its figures for costs, traffic, revenue and benefits? Will taxpayers be exposed to bailing out the company if the thing flops? Will you be able to get some of the costs back from any expected increase in rates income and property values at nearby suburbs? (It’s called ‘value capture’). On a practical level, where will the fumes go, and will dangerous truck loads be allowed? Roads attract more traffic. Is the surrounding road infrastructure able to cope with an influx of more cars, buses and caravans? Who is paying for any improvements to that? Go to other communities and ask what effect a tunnel had, and what they may have had done differently. It could be that it is a great idea, but learn from other’s mistakes, while not squandering a potential opportunity.

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