Wightlink to cut number of ferries on Yarmouth route next summer

Wightlink say demand is falling on their Yarmouth to Lymington route, with customers preferring to use other routes, so one of the W-Class vessels will be moving to the Fishbourne route from Summer 2015.

W-class ferry: Lymington Yarmouth route

This in from Wightlink, in their own words. Ed

Wightlink has announced some changes to its fleet from summer 2015 reflecting changing demand for its services.

With customer statistics revealing that the number of people using the Yarmouth-Lymington route has fallen by almost 15% in the last four years, Wightlink will re-locate one of the three W-class ships that operates in the Western Solent to the Fishbourne-Portsmouth route in early 2015. The vessel will replace St Helen which will be retired.

This decision will not affect the first or last sailings each day and services for commuters will not be altered.

Modernising the fleet
This is the latest stage of Wightlink’s programme to modernise its fleet which has already seen five new ships introduced in the last five years.

Although Wightlink has operated three ships on the Yarmouth-Lymington route in recent years, the third ferry operates just three round trips a day for half the year, providing just eight per cent of the capacity on the route.

Matching capacity with customer demand
Chief Operating Officer John Burrows says:

“Using our fleet as efficiently as possible next year is vital if we are to continue our programme of modernisation and investment, which has seen us introduce five brand new ships within the last five years. To secure the future of our service, we have a responsibility to match the capacity we provide with customer demand and, despite considerable price discounting, adapting our timetable to provide better train connections, improved punctuality and continued high reliability*, demand is falling on our Yarmouth to Lymington route, with customers preferring to use other routes.

“As a result of these changes, customers on our Fishbourne~Portsmouth route will enjoy a more modern ship. Yet, the impact for customers at Yarmouth~Lymington will be minimal. This decision has no impact on our services between October and March and, throughout the summer, we will operate up to 34 sailings a day (17 round trips), on an hourly service. There will be no changes to the first or last sailings of the day and we will continue to offer the late night sailings on key Fridays and Saturdays throughout the summer which we recently introduced in response to customer requests.”

* The latest full year data shows that Wightlink has a superb reliability record, operating more than 99% of scheduled sailings on the Yarmouth~Lymington route, 90 per cent of which depart within five minutes of timetable.

Image: davidcjones under a CC BY 2.0 license

Monday, 24th November, 2014 1:41pm


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

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16 Comments on "Wightlink to cut number of ferries on Yarmouth route next summer"

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Another Wightlink PR disaster.


The slippery slope to the closure of the Y-L route


Was our preferred route with the old ferries, but service frequency was cut (press releases pointing at temporary operating challenges with foot passengers using vehicle ramps before new linkspans had permission). Fuel prices or disinclination resulted in non reinstatement. One less cross-solent vessel :-( Does not bode well for service resilience alongside maintenance and technical problems.

what a joke the reason why its used less is because the consumer has had choice removed by Wighlinks policy and changes to the timetable. As a user of this route and indeed it being our preferred route I have had to use RF and the other WL route at least 8 to 10 times in the last 18 months because of timings required to be on… Read more »
Couldn’t agree more. I’m surprised it’s only 15%, or is that just the last year in a few years of decline. The rot set in when they bought the three new ships before getting the permissions to use them or build the new linkspans. We endured the unreliability of the new boats, the delays caused by the wind, and the inability of them to pass in Lymington… Read more »
I (and many others) stopped using Wightlink in general, and Yarmouth/Lymington in particular, because the services had become so unreliable and expensive that I lost all confidence in them. Rather than try to improve, they make matters worse. One word from Andrew Turner and Wightlink do exactly what they want. What we need is all the good and great from local business to come together to form… Read more »
retired Hack
“The latest full year data shows that Wightlink has a superb reliability record, operating more than 99% of scheduled sailings on the Yarmouth~Lymington route, 90 per cent of which depart within five minutes of timetable.” Have you noticed how Wightlink don’t publish arrival tmes, only departure times? Nowadays it’s complete pot luck how long it takes to get between Yarmouth and Lymington because, ever since the bigger… Read more »

Surely that is reduced capacity all round – how many cars does a W Class ship hold – cant imagine it is the same as St Helen? Also the P-F crossing suffers terrible loading and unloading problems with St Clare – my experience on the L-Y has seemed just as bad – how will that help in the high volume periods?!


The beginning of the end?
For Wightlink?
For Yarmouth?
For the people of the West Wight who need this route – and need it to be much better than it is?
‘Yet, the impact for customers at Yarmouth~Lymington will be minimal’says the statement.
The moment one of the two operating ferries breaks down or has a maintenance problem – THEN THERE WILL BE NO SERVICE.

Man in Black

Unfortunately the W class boats don’t seem to have enough seating for passengers unless you have lots of people sitting outside. During wet weather there’s always a clamour for seating indoors. Not sure how well that’ll go down in their most popular route.

The Sciolist
Very predictable, run the service down, and then claim that passenger and vehicle numbers are falling so you will provide a reduced service. Who do they think they are kidding? Fear not, I think the route is secure – it just badly needs a new customer service focussed owner. Here’s my suggestion for Wightlink, why not take the other two boats along to Portsmouth, and let someone… Read more »

I’m afraid that it now needs to be nationalised without compensation just to protect the route.

No-one will want to buy it or their duff boats, which they have let go.

It would appear that Macquarie have let Wightlink go past the point of no return, the only way this useless management can take it is down the plug hole.

philip yates

This is just the start, as Wightlink are supposed to be dropping the L-Y route.
Had known this for months, so how come its news ???


Philip – can you substantiate your comment – ‘Wightlink are supposed to dropping the L-Y route’? or are you just making an assumption based on rumours?

Jon Combe
I used to be a regular user of this route, but I’m afraid I now rarely use it. I usually cross as a foot passenger and with the old ships it used to work very well. It ran every 30 minutes, most (if not all) of the sailings had a quick rail connection at Lymington, the service was reliable and the crossing around 25 minutes. The connections… Read more »
Interesting times. Three ferries on the Portsmouth route built in the 80’s and early 90’s and the flagship that can’t sail in high winds. Fourth ferry sold off to an Italian ferry company a few years ago. They used to operate all five at one time during peak season and if you were unlucky enough to get the fifth the crossing took over an hour as you… Read more »