Wightlink introduce a new ‘fairer and simpler pricing structure’

Wightlink will be launching a new booking system at the end of the month which they say will bring a new more simple and fairer pricing structure.

Wightlink ferry

This in from Wightlink, in their own words. Ed

As announced earlier this year, Wightlink has invested in a new booking system that will improve the reliability of reservations and ticketing for all customers. Its forthcoming introduction has enabled Wightlink to develop a new simpler and fairer pricing structure.

The market leading ‘CarRes’ system, developed by Finnish firm Carus, is already used by 26 companies across Europe and around the world, and will ‘go live’ at Wightlink at midnight on 26 November 2013.

Two key principles
The new pricing structure is based on two key principles: the size of a vehicle (the space it occupies on board) and the level of demand for a particular sailing.

Commercial Director Clive Tilley says,

“CarRes will not only give our customers and staff a more reliable booking system, it also allows us to introduce a new pricing structure that is fairer and simpler for everyone who travels with Wightlink.

“It removes many anomalies in our present system and will enable customers to make savings by travelling at quieter times. We’ve listened carefully to feedback from our customers and, as a result, one of the key changes we’re introducing is extending our ‘Car +4’ ticket into a ‘Car +7’. These enhanced conditions will also be extended to our new Multilink Passes, which currently only include the car and driver, so it’s a real benefit for Islanders.

“Although this new pricing structure is revenue neutral overall for Wightlink, we recognise that inevitably fares will rise for some customers and drop for others. To avoid two price changes within a few weeks, we’ll be introducing our annual RPI price adjustment at the same time. I’m pleased to be able to report that, for the second year running, we have managed to keep price increases for Island products at below inflation. Other tickets will increase by between 3 and 4%.”

The key changes include:

  • Fair pricing based on how much space a vehicle takes up on board
  • Fair pricing based on the demand for each specific sailing
  • All vehicles 5 metres and shorter in length will be charged the same price – and vans 5m and shorter will be eligible to travel as cars if they book a tourist ticket
  • Tickets will be for ‘car + 7 passengers ‘instead of ‘car +4’ at present
  • No fees for making changes to bookings
  • A move to new Multilink Passes, which can be ‘topped up’ online, by phone and in person
  • Simpler ways for Islanders to prove they have an Island residence, and thereby qualify for Multilink Passes
  • No charges for extra passengers in vans and freight vehicles
  • The extension of e-ticketing to include freight and coach customers
  • New ‘junior coach’ rate for school pupils and groups of young people
  • Removal of supplement for double deck coaches
  • All commercial customers spending more than £1,000 per annum will be eligible to apply for a credit account

Full details of the new fares will be available at www.wightlink.co.uk/fares.

For those who have further interest in this, here’s a link to the company, Carus, who have been selling ferry system since 1998.

They have a section of their site dedicated to their CarRes, Ferry Solutions.

Image: © Carus

Wednesday, 6th November, 2013 12:19pm


ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2bk0

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

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below must comply with the Commenting 'House Rules' and are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

Leave your Reply

61 Comments on "Wightlink introduce a new ‘fairer and simpler pricing structure’"

newest oldest most voted
Tim Brayford

So they are actually announcing a price increase, very well presented, 10/10 for their PR dept.

Hello Tim, Actually the pricing changes are designed to be revenue neutral for our company and some changes (such as the impact to small van or Island Multilink ticket users) will mean customers will find their fares are considerably better value. We thought that we might get a number of questions about our new reservations system CarRes so we’ve produced a document called ‘Your Questions Answered’. You… Read more »
Tim Brayford

So your “RPI” adjustment is not a price increase at all then?

Tim Brayford

I’ve just looked at the wightlink website, I’m sure it says 3%-4% price increase with 4% for multilink.

How is this revenue neutral?


Hello Tim,

Adjusting our fares inline with the inflation rate is not a revenue generating exercise, particularly as our overhead costs have risen above inflation for the past three years.

The reason the pricing structure is revenue neutral is because it is not designed to make more money (which all our customers can see when they look at the changes being made).

Island Monkey

Your costs have gone up, how?

You have fewer loss making sailings, more efficient ships on some routes using less fuel. You employ far fewer people and the new staff are being paid less than the old staff. Your claims don’t add up. Any chance of clarification?


Do your Overhead Costs include increases in various payments (e.g. loan interest, management fees etc- both of which are tax deductible)?


Hello Island Monkey,

You might be interested to read the document which was recently circulated titled Wightlink – The Facts: http://www.wightlink.co.uk/about-us/news/wightlink-in-the-news-keeping-you-informed

Inside you’ll be able to read more about the complex range of factors which Wightlink balances when making decisions about pricing and services.

Wightlink – thanks for giving information and link to website – could you clarify new rules for Multilink car tickets – I don’t currently use these as my main residence is not on the island – however, I have noticed the removal of the word ‘main’ residence and the new use of utility bills as ID- as I travel 12-15 times per year, am I now eligible… Read more »
Hello Richard, Certainly! Before we only accepted an IOW drivers licence as proof of residence on the Island but we’ve simplified our system to make it easier. We now accept utility bills, council tax bills, bank statements etc as proof of a home on the Island meaning that providing you can show one of these, along with a form of photo ID, then you will be able… Read more »

Wightlink – thanks for clarification

Tim Brayford
I’ve just tried out the new “fairer” booking system for a prospective trip to the Badbury Rings PTP in February 2014. Last February the ferry fare was £ 41 return, under the new system this becomes £ 71.60 – a 75% price increase. By comparison the equivalent trip on Red Funnel is £ 38. Revenue neutral indeed, I am more than a little sceptical. The sooner we… Read more »
Wimpy McAlpine

There will never be a bridge/link in your lifetime so get used to the fares.

By using Red Funnel you will be saving over 7% on last February fares so why are you even complaining?

Tim Brayford
I am complaining because in the past year I have spent over £ 800 with Wightlink and I don’t think that a 75% price rise can be in anyway justified under their “fairer” pricing system. This will affect the island’s economy as a whole. How would a bridge or tunnel be financed? By PFI just like our roads are. This was also how the Skye Bridge was… Read more »
@TB “How would a bridge or tunnel be financed? By PFI just like our roads are. This was also how the Skye Bridge was financed.” Read the history of the Skye Bridge Tim. It was built by PFI: the company ripped off the captive Islanders: they Islanders rebelled against the high prices: eventually as a result the Scottish government had to take the bridge back into public… Read more »
Steve the YAK

Dear Wightlink, now that you are going to charge for how much space a vehicle actually takes up, and you tell us that this is the fairer way, are you now going to decrease the amount that you charge for motorcycles, seeing as they only take up about 2 metres of space when parked at an angle? (which is how we are asked to park them)


Hello Steve,

Motorcycles will continue to be offered a lower fare than our normal “under 5m vehicle” fare, as they are on the current system charged less than a car that takes up more space.


One notes that just like MPs’ pensions, Wighlink will use the higher RPI (3.2%) as a base rather than the lower CPI (2.7%).

In this way, it can not only legitimatley claim tax relief on mortgage payments, rents, and council tax as business expenses but can also increase prices at a higher rate.

Another win-win for MacQuarie?


As alluded to above by Cicero our always logical Westminster rulers use CPI for pension and other benefit increases unless a 1% increase to the unemployed plays better to DM & D.Express style readers whilst RPI is more suitable for setting for Business Rates increases and as we learn here MP’s pension increases.
Sadly energy, including fuel, follow free market principles


@Stephen “Sadly energy, including
fuel, follow free market principles”

Indeed! But prices go down as well as up. Presumably Wightlink secures its diesel supplies by future contracts?

If so, todays Futures market for Brent Crude Oil shows that the price will drop over the next five years by 17% from 105.95 today to 87.89 in Feb 2020.

Will Wightlink fares drop by a similar amount?


Sudden deathly silence from Wightlink PR dept? :-))


Hello Cicero,

Interestingly enough, in 1992, the peak day return price for a car+4 was £32.50. In 2012, twenty years later, that cost was £41 – a 26% rise over two decades.

Over the same period RPI has gone up by 81% and in the last three years alone, fuel costs have almost trebled!

Hello Wightlink, Who was it said “Lies, damn lies and statistics”? All one needs to do is choose start and end points that support the preferred argument. “The price of diesel has fallen from 142.50p a litre to 139.12p.” BBC 18 October 2013 “Red diesel prices are down 3.22ppl (4.4%) to 69.15ppl and the diesel pump prices are also down 3.87ppl to 139.15ppl compared with October 2012”… Read more »
Island Monkey

Wightlink – while you are answering questions, inflation is running at less than 2% so what is your justification for a 3.2% fare hike?

I wonder if you will give your staff a 3.2% pay rise and if you have EVER given them an RPI increase?


That’s a very good point. My suspicions are that staff don’t get an rpi increase. Will be interesting to see what Wightlink say.

Island Monkey
Don’t get your hopes up, they will not answer. What they are doing is saying to us ‘our costs have gone up – we must have a big fare rise’ while at the same time telling their staff they cannot afford to pay THEM an RPI increase, despoite their cost of living increasing by the same amount. This is classic bare faced cheek management by a company… Read more »
Steve the YAK
Dear Wightlink, Here’s a proposal for you: To enable islanders to take up daily employment on the mainland, and to make their journeys to and fro cost effective for both yourselves and the customer, I propose that you introduce a weekly book of motorcycle rider only tickets (five return journeys) for £50. The tickets are daily marked and can only be used on that day. In other… Read more »
Tim Brayford
I quite understand the wish of Wightlink to increase fares in line with the RPI, however one of the biggest deterrents to making mainland trips is the very few evening sailings. The Yarmouth – Lymington route which no longer has the late evening sailings and the 3hour gap after the 9pm from Portsmouth makes many of my mainland trips unviable without an over night stop. I understand… Read more »

Hello Steve,

Unfortunately it’s not really practical or sustainable to offer the fare you are suggesting, which would be lower than the foot passenger equivalent.

We will however continue to offer our discounted Multilink Pass to Motorcycle drivers, which offers a lower fare for regular travelers (such as commuters).

As before, the more you spend with us, the greater the discount.

Steve the YAK

Thanks for your reply, Wightlink.
How much can you do it for, then?


Hello Steve,

You can find out pricing details of our Motorcycle Mulilink passes here: http://www.wightlink.co.uk/ferry-travel-info/tickets-and-prices/island-residents-multilinks


I’m with Steve. How can Wightlink justify a solo Motorcyclist paying 75% of the fare paid by a Range Rover taking up three times the space, weighing ten times as much and carrying four people?


This is just another sham. A “Wightlink Wightwash”.


Wightlink laughing all the way to the Macquarie Bank!


The Vampire Kangaroo Strikes Again!

Island Monkey
Laughing all the way to the offshore (tax free) bank? The news here is that Wightlink are putting up prices, that’s not good news, however they try and spin it. Unless you own a full 7 seat car, or a double decker, it’s hard to see how you benefit from these changes? As ever, we’re robbed by these pirates on the Solent. Fewer people will travel, revenue… Read more »
Steve the YAK

Dear Wightlink – period!

Local Business

Another kick in the teeth for the island tourism industry.

During busy times i.e bank holidays and school holidays the price goes up and drives more and more tourists elsewhere, and puts another nail in the Isle of Wight coffin.


Just like the hotels put up their prices, is that the other nail in the coffin?

Dear Steve the Yak My Hyundai i10 is only 3.5 meters, so with your motorbike diagonally parked behind it I reckon we can buy a 5m ticket between us – we’ll just attach the two with a bit of string. Then you and a pillion plus me and 4 random foot passengers (who will be a bit squashed but grateful nonetheless) can all go for the one… Read more »
Im afraid, as a regular commuter I simply cannot justify travelling with Wightlink as Red Funnel is consistently less expensive (although to their credit, Wightlink have better commuter rates-especially for students, although I cannot afford the up front cost in order to take advantage of these rates). I feel quite strongly that Wightlink is generally disliked by the island population, and that awful sinking feeling of missing… Read more »

Here’s another thought to break the WL stranglehold.

Give the Coalition are awarding ship-building to the Clyde at the expense of Portsmouth, why does it not in return invite the Scottish Ferry company- Caledonian McBrayne- to come to the Island and run a a competing ferry service to Pompey?

After all, BAe will have a few empty docks there doing nothing in a year’s time.

Tim Brayford

With this vicious circle of every rising prices and declining services the only permanent solution that becomes apparent would be a fixed link, at least then we could all travel when we wanted to rather being dependent on whether it suited the convenience of a ferry operator


However crossing the Solent would be no cheaper- unless the construction was state-funded and the daily operation state-subsidised.

I would happily pay more to be able to travel freely without all the inconvenience of booking ferries – how do I know how heavy traffic on the mainland will be next Thursday week? Or having to wait at the ferry terminal another hour or three because the departing one is “full” – especially irritating if they haven’t bothered using the mezzanine deck! Accepting that a fixed… Read more »

Just where do you think the Council would get the money? get real.

Both Wightlink and RF operate quasi-monopolies (some even allege an implicit cartel) on their respective routes because of the prohibitive the “cost of entering the market”- the normal way for competition to be created because a competitor would have to build docking stations on the Island and the mainland. So here’s a thought to conjure with. Force WL and RF to share existing docking facilities on the… Read more »

Ooops! and Yarmouth-Lymington, of course.

…and how, pray tell, do you propose ‘forcing’ them to share existing docking facilities on the Island which would struggle to cope with any extra sailings during busy periods? As they all operate to the nearest Island Harbour, moving a Lymington sailing to Cowes or a Southampton sailing to Fishbourne is also going to massively add to sailing times. A completely impractical, clueless suggestion which sadly is… Read more »

“and how, pray tell, do you propose ‘forcing’ them to share existing docking facilities on the Island”

By doing it.

Even if it is an unworkable idea.


By nationalising them nand paying their current owners with long-tern gilts.


Is it just me, or have Wightlink used the commenting here to pretend to answer questions whilst infact promoting their business and trying to use OTW as a free forum for a small public relations campaign?

Wightlink, time for some straight answers to the straight questions that have been put to you.


If that was WL’s PR strategy, it seems to have failed abysmally! :-))


I did say “Trying”


…. and I did say “failed abysmally” (IMHO):-))

Albert Street
Why does the CEO of Wightilnk still sit on the board of the Cross Solent Partnership? Putting him in a position of influence is like putting a fox in charge of ghe hen house. The proposed changes and alleged benefits to ferry users amounts to a price increase, nothing else. Wightlink you are not dealing with blithering idiots. You make substantial profits that are repatriated offshore which… Read more »
John Wolfe

My motorhome is now in the 15mtr x 4mtr section although only 6.4 mtrs long. On future trips if I ever book again I will take up my 15mtrs and put out my awning and tables and chairs – I have paid for all that space.


The motorcycle prices seem astonishing! Guessing that the ferry company has a strangle hold. I wont be coming to the island on my motorbike this week because £80 for a one night visit seems punitive. Much cheaper to got to France £15 against £40 for a day return lol.

Why not create an IoW ferry co-operative and run a service ‘at cost’.



Several people are referring to Wightlink as though it is still owned by Macquarie Bank. Don’t thay know that the current owners are Balfour Beatty ?


… or even Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Partnership LLP-an operator-led infrastructure investment manager providing investment advisory services to investors in mid-market infrastructure assets in the energy, transport and utilities sectors in Western Europe and North America.

Another investment bank with offshore offices?


Quite right – from Macquarie Vulture Co to Balfour Beatty Vulture Co. But now I notice that this post started 18 months ago, so those who mentioned the dreaded M-word were right at the time.