Read the £100k Fixed link study from 1998, released by Pro-Link campaigners (Updated)

The £100,000 fixed link feasibility study from 1998 has been made public by the Pro-link campaigners, who say an updated version needs to be commissioned.

Pile of papers by Robert Couse-Baker

This in from Thomas Cowley on behalf of the Solent Tunnel Pro-Link Campaign Association. Ed

Pro-Link Campaign Association is pleased to announce that after three months of work, the 1998 Fixed Link Feasibility Study is now available copyright-free for anyone to view or download.

The letter disclaiming their interest can be viewed below.

Partly funded by public money
The study was completed by a private company, which was partly funded by public money: Wight Training and Enterprise Limited.

When this company was dissolved in 2005, the rights to the study transferred to The Crown. When this happens, the Crown is then entitled to either charge to release the copyright of items such as this, or disclaim their interest, making the document copyright-free and available for public release.

Study cost £100,000
In 1998, this comprehensive preliminary study cost £100,000. Wight Training and Enterprise never made it available to the public, but thankfully a copy was entered into the IW Council Record Office.

17 years later, after reviewing the document, Pro-Link has now managed to secure this release, so the carefully researched information can contribute to a better-informed, objective debate, to understand the opportunities and complex implications of a fixed link across the Solent.

New report must be commissioned
Naturally, the data in this report is now 17 years old, so doesn’t model the impact of the 20% above inflation prices rises in ferry fares since 1998, or changes in construction costs, techniques and the impact of advances in technology.

A new report must be commissioned to consider the current circumstances, which is the next step in unlocking the benefits of a fixed link across the Solent for residents, businesses and visitors to the Isle of Wight.

The study is NOW available to review in its entirety below or on

For more information and to follow the campaign see the Pro-Link Campaign Association Website, join the Facebook Group and follow on Twitter.

1998 Isle of Wight Fixed Link Feasibility Study

It’s also downloadable.

Letter from Treasury Solicitor giving all clear to copy 1998 Fixed Link Feasibility Study

Updated 15:41 Added 1998 document

Image: Robert Couse-Baker under a CC BY 2.0 license

Wednesday, 25th March, 2015 3:14pm



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

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67 Comments on "Read the £100k Fixed link study from 1998, released by Pro-Link campaigners (Updated)"

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No thanks.
I prefer to be able to travel to my destination of choice, be it Southsea, Portsmouth, Southampton or Lymington. Not to a roundabout in the middle of nowhere, miles from where I want to be.
Please click the down arrow, I’m going for the record.

Billy builder

Sally: on Colin’s. point about up and down arrows it would be interesting to know how many people voted in total. It would be a very simple JavaScript change.

For the record I am slightly on the fixed link side of the fence (being a political fence sitter), but it’s very close.

Simon Perry

Hey, feel free to submit the code, or funds for its development. It would be a welcome advance.


Excellent study if out-of-date.

A new one needs funding before any sensible discussion can take place on a fixed link. How much did the 1998 study cost and how much would a 2015 similar study cost?

So 17 years ago, £100,000 (some of it public money) was spent on a Feasibility Study, which apparently showed several routes that could viable. Nothing ever came of it so that was a complete waste of £100,000. Now like-minded souls want to waste another £150,000, £200,000 maybe even more, who knows, on exactly the same exercise. To what end? Who is going to bankroll a project of… Read more »

But it isn’t “doing the same thing over and over again”, is it?

Plenty has changed since 1998. In 1998 the ferry companies charged a fixed price for day and period returns. We didn’t have the ferry fare lottery we have today. They were also more frequent and ran later.

Bridge and/or tunnel technology and construction techniques have also been improved since then.


A fixed link will cost upwards of £5 billion depending on the route chosen.

So spending £150,000 (today’s equivalent of 1998 £100,0000) on a feasibility study might not be a bad investment before the state commits the big money to the project.

They “talked about a Fixed Link in the 19th Century”, never came to anything. They “talked about a Fixed Link in the 20th Century”, never came to anything. They are still “talking about a Fixed Link in the 21st Century”. The “State” is never going to commit big money therefore A BAD investment of £150,000 of anybodies money, but Cicero or Suruk if you think it is… Read more »
I'll Get Flamed

Times change … just because something didn’t happen in the past doesn’t mean it can’t, or shouldn’t, happen in the future.

I'll Get Flamed
@ Insanity Erm! If the state pays for the study, it *is* using my (and your) money. Be clear about my position on a fixed link. I could be persuaded about potential benefits to the Island *if and only if* it was built and operated by the state not private investment. On the other hand I do not believe that the state can afford to fund a… Read more »
Albert Street

@Cicero. FYI the Vasco da Gams bridge in Portugal reportedly cost $1.1billion, it took 18 in the planning and 18 months to build, simultaneously employing
3, 300 workers.

The bridge is 10.7 miles long


@Albert S.

Wiki states: ‘Construction began on February 1995; the bridge was opened to traffic on 29 March 1998, just in time for Expo 98’

Albert Street

@peaceful_life. Wiki also gave the figures and dates quoted. Nevertheless very interesting statistics. Thanks

Design of the Vasco da Gama bridge The cable-stayed bridge has a central span of 420m and side spans of 203m. The height of the central towers is 150m. The deck of the bridge has a height of 47m from the water” Financing the Vasco da Gama bridge The Vasco da Gama bridge project cost €897m ($1,285m) and was financed by the private sector. The funding was… Read more »

….and has a purpose….not just keeping tourists happy and enabling locals to shop at Gunwharf easier

Their won’t be a bridge until a bridge to the Island is attractive to Industry

so there will be no bridge

In the interest of geekyness, it is worth noting that any bridge over the solent will presumably need to accomodate the very largest ships. At present, the maximum height of passenger ships is set by the deck height of the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge in New York Harbour. Consequently, the Queen Mary 2 was designed with a height of 62 metres (about 200 feet) from the water line and… Read more »

Ye gads! How is anybody going to take me seriously if I can’t remember to operate the spell checker.

I'll Get Flamed

@Insanity – have you read the study report? Those of us who support a FL don’t expect a different result! The study clearly states that a FL would have a positive impact on the economy of the Island and is feasible (including being self financing).


…so there you have it.

“a fixed link would be likely to have a significant and positive impact on the economy of the island.”

That’s worth repeating ad nauseum!



As per the economic thinking of 1998, a lot has happened since then.


So you don’t expect a different result!

So in 2033 you’ll be back asking for yet another feasibility study as a fixed link still wont have been built and for the same reason, NOBODY is prepared to pay for one least of all, YOU!

I'll Get Flamed

I currently pay hundreds of pounds every year to the private equity companies who own the ferry companies.

I would very happily pay that money to a company funding a FL for a more reliable, more flexible crossing with shorter crossing times, no need to book and no cancellations.


How about asking islanders if they want a fixed link first? I don’t like the way this group of individuals operate. Let’s see if they can raise the funds – doubt it. If you don’t like living here MOVE.

I'll Get Flamed

Fully agree – let’s have a proper referendum!


feel free to fund one then.

Barry Groves
I used to work for WTE and can assure you that most reports were written in a way that either supported the statistics they were paid to produce or gave them ammunition for staying in existence. I personally would not waste my time even reading the report. However, most investors would want a return on their money of 5% and so if the cost of a link… Read more »
I'll Get Flamed
1. where did £5 billion come from? 2. are you a member of the Government and authorised to decide what they will and won’t invest in? 3. you do know that we have bomb threats on the Island as well don’t you? 4. why do you think burglars will pay to cross a FL? Do you know that we have higher crime rates than Fareham? 5. what… Read more »
for a start a new feasibility study won’t cost much at all… Most of the information is still valid in the 98 one so all that needs doing is a few minor changes! We have worked out a cost on 1 of the routes and it only amounts to 600-700 million… That’s no where near 5 billion!! Not sure where some of your figures come from?? It’s… Read more »

Wow anti’s out in force with their arrows :) this is brilliant! Just a bit of number tweeking and feasibility study done! How could they hide this away for so long? Criminal!

why Is it people want to ask the islanders to vote yes or no.surely an economic study on whats best for the islands economy for us and future generations Is the right way to look at it ,if I felt it right for this reason I would vote yes even if my own views were against it,i believe people should not look at it whats best for… Read more »
Vix Lowthion

Because life is not just about unrelentless growth of the economy. It is about local services and environment and identity too.

You need to weigh the issue up ad down and consider the *impact* a FL would have on our lives. The economy is just a part.

I'll Get Flamed
Fully agree Vix! Three years ago a close family member of mine was offered a choice of cancer treatment on the Island or a more advanced treatment in Southampton. He could not face travelling to and from the mainland, in the winter, whilst enduring chemotherapy. He chose the local service. We do not know whether the more advanced treatment would have saved him. We do know that… Read more »

Well said!


Well said! Sorry tried loads of times to click on Your up arrow but not working! Funny that anyone with the opposite few has lots of votes :/

Sally Perry

There is a bug in the system meaning that if a comment has no votes, when the first vote is left (either up or down) it doesn’t appear until the page is refreshed. If you clicked on the arrow, it would have been registered.

Vix Lowthion
Again, dismissing concerns about the FL as ’emotional’ and ‘romantic’ does the campaign no favour. It merely polarises the situation. Regarding health – build a FL and we lose our hospital. The A&E and maternity services on the mainland would the come within the tolerance for response times (unlike Skye which is 100 miles from nearest big hospital). Regarding education: build a FL and parents from Portsmouth… Read more »
I'll Get Flamed
Vix – you do not know that a FL will cause the closure of our A&E or maternity units. That is speculation on your part. You show little concern for all those patients who today have to travel to the mainland for treatment. Similarly, there is absolutely no evidence to substantiate your view on education. Again, you show little concern for the young people who are already… Read more »
Vix Lowthion
Agree – we don’t ‘know’ any of that. Exactly my point. If we are going to approve a project costing billions, we should do so after properly researched impact studies so that we have a qualified idea of what we’re letting ourselves in for. And no. Of course we are all concerned about young people and ill people having to leave the island for education and treatment.… Read more »
I'll Get Flamed

Many, many people are forced to leave the Island today for health and education purposes.

That’s not hypothetical … it’s real!

That isn’t going to change and a FL would have a massive positive impact on their lives.

Vix Lowthion
And you know what – I’m not living anywhere near where I grew up either. I had to travel 120 miles away from my family home to attend the uni course I wanted. My local A&E was a 40 minute plus drive across half a dozen town centres to the other side of the county. I never went back to live with my parents because the job… Read more »

@Vix “Regarding education: build a FL and parents from Portsmouth or Southampton would be able to send their children to our schools.”

How many parents would spend a potential £44 return toll twice a day to drop and collect their kids from school either on the Island or the mainland?

Vix Lowthion

So it would still be beyond the pockets of daily commuters? Then what is the point?

I'll Get Flamed

The £44 figure has been plucked out of the air (along with the £5 billion figure).

However, I agree with Cicero that it is highly unlikely that parents from Portsmouth and Southampton would want to send their children to Island schools.


@IGF £44 return toll fee not plucked out of the air but projected by the 1998 report.


See 1998 Report paras 3.14 and 7.02.3

I'll Get Flamed

Cicero – just to check … you have taken the figure of £19.80, added £3.25 for the driver and then doubled for a return journey? Is that how you calculated £44?

@IGF Thanks for checking. I think it is 19.80 +£2.25 (if driver only)= £22.05 per single journey. Thus £44 per return journey- more if more than one passenger in the car. (I did see £22 itself mentioned elsewhere but haven’t located it again yet.) I also noticed that the projected toll fee was based on comparative ferry prices at that time. Also that the Study was part… Read more »
I'll Get Flamed
Cicero – please check my numbers, but section 3.14 states that the price for a car / light goods vehicle is £15 (i.e. £30 return). The £2.25 per passenger figure refers to PSV passengers. The £19.80 per vehicle charge is the “weighted average fare per vehicle”. In addition, these figures relate to the “high toll” option and are based on traffic forecasts “derived on the basis of… Read more »
@IGF- whereas the £30 is the “low toll” option taking advantage of a speculatory discount to encourage visitors and business to come to the Island- is it not? s.7 fig 7.1 Financial Evaluation shows the effect of both High toll and Low toll pricing for the Portsmouth and Ryde options- having previouslt stated on p.79 that bridge options for Pompey/Fishbourne and Browndown(?)/Ryde ate “Not Feasible.” An up-to-date… Read more »

sounds like you are justifying St Marys closing and moving to Southampton

This silly link plan would hasten the the Island becoming a rich retirement home with no shops and no business…just 200,000 more cars a year on day trips…so no hotels either

And then you would have to get someone to pay for it…never going to happen


Removing one of the key barriers to industry (wasted time and money with ferries) would result in less business on the IW?

How on earth did you figure that one?


Did you read the above? ^^^^ They have done one it was just hidden from the public!

Vix Lowthion

Impact assessments and feasibility assessments are quite different.

Just because we *can* build something, doesn’t mean that we should.

@tara Please don’t confuse this report with a feasibility study, this is a pre-feasibilty not a full feasibility study. The document points this out in many places when it makes assumptions of impact. People need to be fully aware of that and read it properly. Also don’t forget the report was also compiled and funded by private enterprise who stood to make significant financial gain from the… Read more »
I'll Get Flamed
I fully agree that a full, independent feasibility study is required. Whilst I support a FL, my position would change if an independent study did not articulate clear benefits for Islanders. Personally, I would be willing to contribute to a fund to cover the cost of a referendum and a feasibility study. Would you be willing to accept the findings if funded by a pro-link group? That… Read more »
@I’ll Get Flamed I would indeed support the outcome of a full impartial comprehensive feasibility study if it’s findings showed benefit to the island heavily outweighs any detriment. Just because I’m not in favour of a FL doesn’t mean I can’t put my personal opinion to one side in the face of benefit to the majority if that was the outcome. The benefits of a FL are… Read more »
I'll Get Flamed

Rifty – no argument with me on the points you have just made. I too would like to fully understand the negative impact. There are too many unsubstantiated arguments on both sides.

Putting together an appropriate referendum is not as easy as one might think. The following needs to be considered: 1. What background information would accompany the referendum either written ot via meetings? (Look at the recent Scottish one as an example). 2. What is the question to be put (A simple Yes/No about support would be much clearer than Yes/No/Depends) 3. To whom would the referendum be… Read more »
I'll Get Flamed
Cicero – very true! That’s why I believe we need a phased approach where we invest just enough at each stage to obtain sufficient information to either justify or rule out moving on to the next stage. Initially a low cost, independent poll conducted by a professional research company to obtain a representative view of Islanders wishes. Perhaps such a poll could be funded by the pro-link… Read more »

Can I also point out that the stupid arrows don’t work! Clicked up time and time again then hit down by mistake and vote registered! :/


And a down arrow! !! See they work! ! :)

Sally Perry

As mentioned above – There is a bug in the system meaning that if a comment has no votes, when the first vote is left (either up or down) it doesn’t appear until the page is refreshed. If you clicked on the arrow, it would have been registered.



So to save everybody money wasted on a fixed link, those that need to be on the mainland go and live on the mainland.

Those that are happy to live with the inconveniences and benefits of Island life, stay here with the status quo.

You can’t have it both ways.

Job Done. Simples.

Cue lots of neg arrows.

I'll Get Flamed
Really sad Colin that you can’t think of a better argument! What if the people you are saying should leave include a good GP, a talented teacher, a business person who has created jobs on the Island or an intelligent young student who has a great future. Do you really think telling people to leave is the way to create a positive and prosperous society. How does… Read more »

***”Those that are happy to live with the inconveniences and benefits of Island life, stay here with the status quo.”***

Indeed Status Quo are a bunch of old has-beens of limited talent, so you should feel quite at home with them. ;-)


@ suruk

so anyone who doesn’t want a fixed link is an old has-been of limited talent?

Surely you can do better than that?