Clamouring for a fixed link, in response to the failings by Wightlink, is an obtuse cop-out — a refusal to acknowledge that the real need for a ferry operator accountable to an authority in the UK, in preference to shareholders goodness knows where.

This would not have to be a national authority, such as the Department of Transport — though that would be preferable to the present situation.

Common sense and a regard for local democracy would suggest a regional consortium, representing those with an actual interest in cross-Solent transport.

However, speaking as a former customer of Sealink, I suggest that even the most bigoted British Rail basher could scarcely contend that private owners run a better service.

The Cenred, Cenwulf and Caedmon were accessible, comfortable and reliable — more so than the present fleet with their steep steps. They were also more frequent.

I notice fixed link clamourers have ignored the issue of how and by whom such a structure would be financed.

Unless a commercial/industrial construction company were prepared to make such a huge capital investment — or gamble — the proposed tunnel would have to financed by central government (ie: the taxpayer): nationalisation with a vengeance — worse than the infamous M6 motorway, financed by general taxation.

It is not financed by Vehicle Excise Duty, as is evidenced by the fact that private car and van owners on the Island who drive mainly or solely on the Isle of Wight pay the same road tax/VED as the drivers who cause fatal or serious injury crashes on the M6/M62.

Only a fraction of the cost of these crashes is met by vehicle insurance; the rest comes from National Insurance and general taxation.

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