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Mayors celebrate the return of Wightlink’s FastCats linking Portsmouth with Ryde

(29 July 2020) The resumption of Wightlink’s FastCat foot passenger link between Portsmouth Harbour and Ryde Pier Head on Friday 31 July will be welcomed in person by the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, City Councillor Rob Wood and the Mayor of Ryde, Town Councillor Michael Lilley.

Both will cross the Solent to celebrate the reintroduction of the 140 year old connection between the Isle of Wight and the mainland by ferry and train; it was suspended on Monday 6 April as very few people were travelling because of Covid-19.

During the pandemic, the three cross-Solent ferry operators have worked together with the Isle of Wight’s Transport Infrastructure Board, to ensure essential supplies reached the Island and key workers have been able to travel safely. While Wightlink’s Portsmouth to Fishbourne car ferry continued to sail every day carrying lifeline freight and essential travellers, Hovertravel carried foot passengers.

The Lord Mayor and Ryde Mayor will travel together on both Wightlink’s FastCat and Hovertravel’s hovercraft on Friday*.

Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield says: “Following increased demand for cross-Solent travel, we are delighted to start up our FastCat service again. We look forward to carrying day trip visitors to support Ryde’s economy and seasonal businesses as well as Islanders who want to travel to the mainland for business or pleasure.

“Our FastCats will be carrying fewer passengers than usual to assist with social distancing. There will be high standards of cleanliness on board and people will be wearing face coverings. Wightlink has been awarded the ‘We’re Good to Go’ mark by VisitBritain. This shows we comply with all Government and public health guidance and have carried out the necessary risk assessments.”

Both Wightlink and Hovertravel will be engaging in promotional activities to encourage visitors to take a ‘Ticket of Ryde’ in August.

Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, City Councillor Rob Wood says: “Our connection with the Isle of Wight is very important to us. We are proud to be celebrating this relationship and recognising how closely we work together.

“This is our opportunity to mark the importance of good, strong and reliable transport links, celebrate these important anniversaries and underline how vital it is to continue to do all we can to help businesses to recover from this difficult period.”

Mayor of Ryde, Town Councillor Michael Lilley says: “We are proud to celebrate 140 years of the historic train and ferry links between Portsmouth Harbour and Ryde Pier Head and 55 years of hovercraft crossings between Southsea and Ryde.

“We are grateful for both Wightlink and Hovertravel for their daily services, Covid-19 showed how important they are to Ryde’s residents and businesses. We have much to celebrate and offer in community spirit and friendship.”


Photo: Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Rob Wood, Wightlink’s Fleet and Operations Director John Burrows and Ryde Town Mayor Councillor Michael Lilley (and Muddie the West Highland terrier).

Please note this image was taken on Wightlink premises but not in the terminal areas where face coverings must be worn.