From Phil Jelly, Ryde:

I read with interest Mr Hunter's letter about the Wightlink catamaran service (CP 28-05-21).

It was nearly eight years ago I first complained to Wightlink about poor connections between the catamarans and trains at Portsmouth Harbour — particularly London bound trains.

I joined a Wightlink passenger forum group and have attended every meeting over the years, constantly trying to get Wightlink to provide better connections, better service and more investment in this very important service.

For foot passengers it is the only service that has step free access from train to boat and boat to train and provides a vital link to the mainland for Islanders as well as an important route to the Island for visitors.

Wightlink don't seem to see it that way and I always come away from the meetings feeling they are really not interested in foot passengers and would rather not have us around.

I was on the point of giving up because I was not travelling so much and I seemed to be fighting a losing battle.

Then along came the £26 million investment in Island Line. A golden opportunity to get the catamaran times adjusted for better connections on both sides of the Solent.

Surely we could have a train every 30 minute on the Island, a train every 30 minutes to London Waterloo and the catamarans running a 30 minute service to link the two.

This would require some investment by Wightlink in a third catamaran but the enormous potential of the route could finally be recognised.

But no. Wightlink along with South Western Railway have let this golden opportunity slip through their fingers.

The Island Line contract allows for two trains to run a 30 minute service with much improved trains. To do this the trains will need to pass each other half way along the line. So, a passing loop is built at Brading Station? This is five miles from Ryde Pier Head and three and a half miles from Shanklin — hardly half way!

I decided to take my fight to South Western Railway through their 'meet the manager' scheme.

I was informed they will achieve a regular 30 minute timetable by tightening up the times between Brading and Ryde and only allowing a four-minute turnaround at Ryde Pier Head.

Even SWR admitted it was very tight and not very robust in the event of late running (which there is bound to be) but said it was the best they could do!

The golden opportunity to substantially increase passenger numbers on this very important route will be lost.

Shame on both companies for wanting to make their money without providing the service. Foot passengers will continue to have a third rate service.

I would not support a road fixed link but I wonder if the best answer would be a rail tunnel to link Ryde with Portsmouth.

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