For several months during the summer and Autumn of 2014 the “Are Wightlink the Right link?” Facebook group has been consistently bombarded by posted complaints from disgruntled customers using the Isle of Wight ferry companies.
That was the first successful Facebook group to draw attention to the problems of Island/Mainland travel and gives the public a single voice to air their grievances or concerns. Much time has passed but no action has been sufficient to alleviate the problems. It transpires that the only inevitable action is to find a solution that is alternative to ferry companies. Many on that Facebook group complain of high tickets prices, unreliable ferry transport and the inability to travel at leisure at any time of the day. The best solution to these major drawbacks of using inefficient ferry transport is a fixed link.
It is an incredibly emotive subject for islanders. Some were born here, some moved here as a child and some have moved recently to adjust to island life. Everyone seems to have a different opinion, not necessarily whether they would prefer a fixed link, but in the details. The “Are Wightlink the Right link?” Facebook group is really more concerned with airing grievances and discontentment with the ferry companies as opposed to finding a solution to the problems.
In late September 2014 Kevin Price decided to take it upon himself to write to the Ministry of transport and find out if there was a solution that could be suggested? The reply stated that the Ministry of transport had a transport infrastructure fund of £6 billion allocated for projects up to the year 2021. They also confirmed that no one had ever made a request to gain access to this fund for fixed link transportation to the Island. Kevin Price then contacted his friend Carl Feeney who was also particularly interested in finding a solution and the two teamed up.
Kevin organised a meeting with local MP Andrew Turner to show him the letter and discuss plans for a potential island referendum to find out the sentiments of islanders regarding a fixed link. Mr Turner stated that he would support a referendum if it could be established that most people on the Isle of Wight would support a fixed link….he said that no one before had ever come to him with such a proposal.
After that meeting Carl set up the Facebook group the “Isle of Wight fixed Link Referendum Debate“. Islanders were free to join the group whether they wanted a fixed link or not and debate on the subject ensued. The group after two weeks now, has over 4000 members. The debates have been very enlightening and from these, it has become clear as to the fears or expectations some Islanders feel towards a fixed link.
This Facebook group has grown and attracted national and local media attention. It appears the fixed link referendum proposal is getting more support than many expected. The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, has been made aware and commented. BBC South Today did a report on 16th November, in which Andrew Turner stated clearly that a plan must be presented before any referendum could take place. After that interview, a request was put on the Referendum Forum for a person skilled in pictorial presentations using web based mediums to present a potential fixed link plan option that Carl Feeney had discovered. Rob Forrest answered that request and has worked all hours voluntarily to have this ready in time. During that time George Bristow of Bembridge has acted as the Spokesperson for the fixed link referendum campaign.
Page shows the initial potential plan that may be realistic or perhaps another plan would be better?…..but it is a plan and as engineers were consulted beforehand, it is feasible. It has been produced with no expense apart from lots of time taken to provide information as we see it. We believe this design gives opportunities to islanders to improve their lifestyle and business possibilities and reduce traffic congestion and vehicular use. In order for an economy to grow, communication and fast transport is imperative.
This is not a quick fix, this is a permanent solution to a continual problem and we believe, has the scope to keep the Island lifestyle, business and economy progressing for decades to come.
We are hoping that with this plan or evolved plan, that a fair and democratic referendum will be held to decide whether Islanders want to be free from total ferry reliance, or if they feel the ferries are the way to continue with no alternative? If we say “no” we can put the matter to bed. If it’s a “yes” we can hopefully go on to the next stages of politics, securing funds, working out the many details and then initiate construction.
Please find some Special resources which might help increase understanding and awareness of what we are trying to achieve and why.
The tunnel itself will be 20.9km/13M in length. Whilst this appears to be very long and theoretically expensive, tunnels are bored on an economy of scale. The main expense is the setting up of equipment and start-up costs. Once that has been achieved a price pro rata per km is lessened as the length increases.
It will be one tunnel that will be 16m in internal diameter. It is envisaged that this will comprise a single line of vehicular traffic in each direction, one standard gauge railway track, and a Service Lane that grants emergency access to the Rails above and the vehicular lanes to the side, which will be accessed through secure doors.
The tunnel will also be able to facilitate any communication or fluid transport through voids that are not used by the transport system or air ventilation systems. Any upgrades in technology should be able to reach the Island easily through physical means.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE TUNNEL SPOILS?
The extracted earth and spoil will be used to reclaim land in front of Solent Way at the entrance to Southampton Water. This area of mud at present, dries to 1.2m above lowest astronomical Tide (or chart Datum). This re-claimed land, once settled behind shuttered hoardings will form a new Marina complex in between Hook Lake and Bromwich Pond or further (depending on volume) to serve the Solent. The distance between the Mainland Portal and this area is 4.2km, which is easy and close for delivery of spoil.
There is also a possibility to develop a land reclamation Marina with the spoil on the Island side near Shanklin, at the bottom of Hope Road. There are many other projects that could be envisaged that will require land fill and these projects could be undertaken at this time to make them more economical.
The two bored tunnels join at a point in the centre of the Solent. At this point a concrete shaft will be formed to allow ingress of fresh air ventilation to the tunnel. The fresh air will be forced by fans into the tunnel to expel carbon monoxide and other fumes from the tunnel.
This formed shaft will also have a secondary use as a support for tidal turbines for electricity generation and perhaps even a Wind Turbine (not pictured).
A third use for this shaft is for emergency exit use or access for emergency services should they be required to gain entrance to the tunnel from a central location. It is hoped that the tidal turbines will generate enough energy to power the electrical services of the tunnel and even the Monorail system installed on the Island.
LOCATIONS OF TUNNEL PORTALS
A location which is not on Green Belt land has been found on the Mainland for a portal to enter a tunnel which is within building confinements but at the moment is Green field to the immediate West of Tichfield Abbey. (50°51’27.89″ N and 1°14’14.55” W) This location is ideal for entry on to the M27 motorway via the immediate entry from vehicular portal to the A27 Southampton Road and also gaining immediate access to a standard gauge railway line which would take you East or West directly to Portsmouth and beyond, London or Southampton and many major airports. Heading East, Fareham train station can be used to access alternative trains to different locations. The location is very much between Southampton and Portsmouth cities. The elevation above sea level for this portal will be between 30m and 22m. The distance from the Solent to the Portal is 4.9km. As a tunnel should be 50m minimum under sea bed level, the tunnel will need to enter at the waters edge 80m below its start. This would give the tunnel an angle of 1:61. The minimum angle normally required is 1:16 and this is easily achieved. The North Channel in the Solent is 4m deep at lowest astronomical Tide. Therefore the easing of the tunnel angle to level is possible at approximately central Solent.
The Island based portal for entry or exit from the tunnel (Also not on Green Belt land) is located South of Brading Downs next to the present route 23 cycle track and is nearby the main Lake to Newport Arreton Road. (50°40’17.2” N and 1°13’17.68” W). This Arreton road is a main arterial Road of central Isle of Wight. Heading West will take you to the town of Newport, heading East will take you to Sandown and Lake. Within minutes Canteen Road at Hale Common is accessed to take you to Wroxall and Ventnor. To access the West and South West of the Island, Merstone Lane and Blackwater Hollow can be used before Newport is reached. Heading to the North of the Island, Downend Road at Arreton followed by Briddlesford Road will gain access to the North of the Island. Vehicular traffic from this entry point to the Island can radiate in a variety of directions without causing a bottleneck of one road. Also from this location a Monorail system can easily be accessed, which will need to be installed within the existing old steam engine track which is now a cycle track from Cowes to Sandown. Please note this will not effect the use of the original Cycle track. A single standard gauge train will run through the tunnel with a station on the Island side to hold or prepare trains while others arrive or depart at the same elevation as the monorail station. An alternative Tunnel train could be an electric propelled dedicated Train between Fareham Station on the Mainland and the Island Arreton Terminus. (The “Isle of Wight Express”)
The Island portal elevation to the tunnel is between 29m and 9m. The distance between the Island portal and the Solent edge is 7.9km. The depth of the Solent at lowest astronomical tide is 20m in the South channel. That gives us a depth of 49m plus another 50m under the seabed is 99m to achieve a minimum 1:16 inclination. The inclination achieved is 1:79.
THE ELECTRIC MONORAIL SYSTEM.
The Isle of Wight had, in its glory days a steam train rail track that powered transport for people and goods around the Island without the use of vehicles. To this day, this pathway has been preserved and turned into a cycle track from the outskirts of Cowes to the outskirts of Sandown. It is possible to install a Monorail system above the cycleway that it has become, whilst maintaining the present Cycle Paths. The train line that is active at the moment from Shanklin to Ryde has not been invested in for a great many years. New trains and possibly even track will need to be updated or renewed very soon. This plan will undertake to remove traditional standard gauge trains (which are environmentally unfriendly) and all of the track and sleepers to create a new cycleway from Shanklin to Ryde. Just as the Monorail will be above the cycle track from Cowes to Newport and then on to Sandown, a Monorail will be installed above the new cycle way from Shanklin to the end of Ryde pier. Both sections of Monorail will join at Sandown to form a loop.
This will facilitate the use of the monorail for commuting from town to town of the major populated five areas of the Island by Island Residents. Tourists or business people arriving from the Mainland will therefore not be required to bring a vehicle if they need to visit these major towns Reducing both Carbon emissions and Traffic congestion. School children will also be able to reach their destination in the morning, and return home in the afternoon easily and in comfort. The festivals will be well catered for as coaches and cars will not necessarily be required. The monorail system will travel through the most glorious countryside making each journey a pleasure just as it did in the days of the steam trains. Vehicle usage will be kept to a minimum if travelling between these towns. It will be possible to enter the monorail at Cowes, transfer to the traditional standard gauge train at Arreton and be at the airports of Gatwick or Heathrow some 90 minutes later. A single line monorail system will be installed. Each station will have holding bays for two Monorail trains. A timed system also using a global positioning system will ensure that the trains will pass each other whilst the other one is at a Station in a holding bay. Therefore a single line monorail system can be used for trains going in different directions without fluidity of motion being compromised. In order to choose your direction of travel, you will enter the train that is going in your direction on one side of the station platform or the other. In effect one train will continue in a loop from Cowes to Ryde and then from Ryde to Shanklin and then from Shanklin to Cowes.
MONORAIL STATION LOCATIONS.
It is envisaged a monorail will begin at:
1/Arctic Road….Cowes Station.
2/The present Vestas building.
1500 metres. 60 kmkph
3/Riverside industrial Estate next to veterinary surgery on vacant ground between National cycle route 23 and public footpath N29. Will serve the hospital and IOW college also.
1600 metres. 64kph
4/Newport Central Station will be on land vacant between St Georges approach, Saint Georges Way and Connies Way footpath.
2400 metres 96kph
2900 metres. 116kph
3300 metres. 132kph
7/Arreton Terminus / Mainline train station and vehicle portal.
2400 metres. 96kph
8/Alverstone garden village.
2400 metres. 96kph
2400 metres 96kph
4000 metres. 160kph
11/ Smallbrook Station
1200 metres. 48kph
12/ St. John’s Road Station
1900 metres. 76kph
13/ Ryde Esplanade
600 metres. 24kph
14/ Ryde Pier Head) Three holding bays are required at Ryde Pier head. One train with carriages will always be ready to load from the passenger ferry. This will ensure the fluidity of motion as the trains revert one place back at this position. I.e. One train out as one arrives but one is also loading at the same time.
Sandown to Shanklin is 3300 metres. 132kph
Cowes – Newport Central. 6.42km
Newport Central – Sandown. 13.5km
Sandown – Shanklin. 3.51km
Sandown – Ryde P/Head. 9.89km
Total required 33.32km
There is potential scope to add Stations at East Cowes via a bridge to Brittania Way. This bridge could easily have a hinged rail to allow for oversized vessels. Wroxall and Ventnor could potentially be reached via the original Steam Train track. Also another station at Lake could be added for easy tourist beach access.
The time allocated at each station for disembarkation and embarkation will be 50 seconds. Each journey between stations will take 90 seconds, with an added 10 seconds for inertia and another 10 seconds for braking. So it will take 110 seconds between stations. A journey between Cowes and Sandown is eight stations and eight stops which means a journey time of 21 minutes and 33 seconds. This will be quicker than a vehicle and is far more ecologically friendly and is more enjoyable as you travel through beautiful scenery. We believe tourists will come to the island on the train to experience our ground-breaking Monorail system and then hire a bicycle and cycle the route afterwards.
With full train capacity the maximum wait time between trains should be no more than 2 minutes and 40 seconds. As you remove trains from operation due to lack of passenger requirement, the regularity will decrease but still anticipated to be no longer than 10 minutes.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE FERRIES?
All of the cross-Solent routes are run by independent, privately-owner businesses. Unless deals are completed with these companies, as happened in Skye and Prince Edward Island in Canada these companies will remain in the face of competition.
The Yarmouth to Lymington Ferry car ferry would be likely to stay. Those who prefer this mode of transport will still have that option and West Wight will still be connected to the New Forest. The ferries that service this route have been renewed recently. Yarmouth town thrives on tourism coming from the ferry route and people commuting to Lymington or surrounding areas will require the ferry service to remain.
The Red Jet passenger ferry from Cowes to Southampton Town Quay would also be likely to remain as this is vital for those in Cowes to commute to Southampton and also for sailors to gain access to Cowes. This service is not labour intensive and takes very little space.
The fast cat passenger ferry from Portsmouth to Ryde pierhead may also remain viable and will link up with the new monorail system on the Island as well as the link to the trains at Portsmouth harbour.
It is envisaged that the hovercraft at Ryde Sands (Hover travel) will continue but it remains to be seen whether it will be used profitably as people make different choices of transport. This form of transport is notoriously uneconomical and environmentally unfriendly although great fun. The service also suffers regular disruption and unlike the Fastcat service it does not terminate within a public transport interconnect.
It is anticipated that the Wightlink Fishbourne to Portsmouth Car ferry service would not be viable. The existing ferries require replacement as two of the existing ones are reaching the end of their service life. This has an estimated cost to the taxpayer of around £200 million. The Wightlink company are already reputedly £200 million in debt. Valuable land at both locations on the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth will be freed up for alternative use or possibly sold to pay creditors.
It is expected the Red funnel Car ferry from East Cowes to Southampton will be discontinued. East Cowes is set to be regenerated as soon as the new sea defence system for Cowes Harbour has settled. A new marina complex inside East Cowes breakwater is planned and this can be expanded if car ferry movements no longer need to be taken into consideration.
The high-value land which is used for marshalling yards at East Cowes will be freed up for alternative, more appropriate use. At Southampton the regeneration of the Town Quay and Mayflower Park area is to include a new berth for the Red funnel car ferry. The Red funnel ferry company are also £80 million in debt. It is envisaged that it will also be the taxpayer who pays for the relocation of the berthing for the Red funnel ferry at Southampton within the regeneration plans. Tax payers money saved through the removal of the necessity to pay for this berth can be allocated to assist with financing a fixed link.
A very rough guide to potential Fixed Link income. (Experts will need to assess this more accurately)
Tolls…assisted by incorporating automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology.
12 month permit to travel at will with a vehicle that is nominated, with passengers, any time of the year, any time of the day, for up to 3 return journeys per day. £1,000 p/a …..
Taxis will have a different permit with unlimited crossings £1,500 p/a
(Straight to any airport from home)
Cars not registered on the Island cannot have permits (in order to limit traffic on the island). £40 return journey sold only (4 week limit). No one way ticket. Any car not registered on the Island but is on the Island without a return ticket to get back to mainland. £40.
Individual crossings for Island Residents with a nominated Island registered vehicle and passengers. (Without a permit) £10 each way. This also applies to Mainland registered disabled drivers, with their Blue Badge and photo ID.
Horse boxes £40 return
Motorhomes £40 return
Motorbikes £5 return.
Up to 7 tons. 1yr permit £2000 or £40 each way
Up to 10 tons. £2,400 and £45
Up to 15 tons. £3,000 and £50
15 tons and above £4,000 and £65
Permits only allow one return journey per day.
All above lorries…plus vat.
Any HGV that are not registered as Island vehicles will have 30% added to the fare.
Train journey transfer for foot passengers £3 each way to Fareham Station. OAPs half price.
To us these rates sound fair. Cheaper than the ferries and no restricted freedom of movement which should build our economy and improved lifestyle. Multiply the above rates with the expected annual vehicular traffic to get an approximate income from the tunnel. Any investor would want a 5% yield and that probably includes the government as well. Multiply our annual income figure by 20 and you’ll see how much we have to spend on a tunnel on those terms.
A share of a £6billion Government Ministry of Transport fund is accessible also.
General running costs of an automated toll Tunnel are small once build is completed.
We believe Government favour these types of projects (HS2)…..Many people employed to design and build the link who pay tax, many materials used (vat), tolls with minimal overheads and a booming Island economy with private investment, waterparks, etc, that has less unemployment, more businesses and tourists spending money. A portion of the tolls could be used to improve Island infrastructure, roads, clean beaches, cut grass verges, etc.
Wightlink employ 600 people (£10-£12million per annum in wages alone). Add fuel, depreciation, maintenance, pensions, regulatory coding, etc….very inefficient. A Fixed Link has very few overheads as registration plate recognition technology is used and automated toll booths. This allows far cheaper tolls in comparison to ferry fares while still making a good attractive yield for private investors and Government
These estimations are averaged over the year (Bestival, festival, winter). Last year roughly 2.1 million vehicles travelled on the ferries of which 275,000 were HGVs. We anticipate an uplift in vehicular traffic as people get used to their freedom to travel to and from the mainland at any hour of the day. The Yarmouth-Lymington ferry stays so that may offset the uplift.
Cars- £1000 x10,000=£10m
Taxis- £1,500 x 500=£75,000
Motorbike-£500 x 200=£200,000
Horse boxes-£1,500 x 200=£30,000
Add 10% for individual tickets. =£1m
>7tons £2,000 x 8000=£21m
>10tons £2,400 x 5000=£12m
>15tons £3,000 x 2,500=£7.5m
16tons> £4,000 x 1000=£4m
Add 5% for individual tickets. =£1.9m
Mainland traffic in/out. (No permit)
P/day. P/yr. price Total
Cars. 2500. 912,000. £40. 36.5m
>7t. 1000. 365,000. £60. 22m
>10t. 500. 182,500. £80. 14m
>15t. 500. 182,000. £120. 9m
15>. 150. 54,750. £180. 10m
Train passengers per year.
1 million x £6 return to Fareham.
Grand total £160.2 million per annum.
This is a “best guess” income solely from the tunnel. Experts will need to assess more accurately the figures.
The totals add up theoretically to £160.2 million p/yr.
(Plus buses, coaches, trailers, etc. That could pay for maintenance, staffing).
Ok, so we have potential massive amounts of income. What happens next?
In theory we don’t need government help, although it would be nice and it would be offered more than likely. We as an Island, can own our own fixed Link.
Here’s one scenario: (there are loads!)
Private equity bonds issue….once the planning and design is completed, we need the funds to build the fixed Link. At that stage a company say… “IoW Fixed Link limited” issues promissory bonds to private equity funds. In contract we promise them either a set interest rate or rate set above BOE interest rate on their money. For these figures we have used 5% interest to them. They can lend 20 times the projected income on that amount to us. (£3.2 billion) It turns out (in theory) we’ll only need one third or so of that amount to build the fixed link so the two thirds of income which is £107million p/a comes back to the “Isle of Wight Fixed Link Limited” company. We can then have provisions drawn up to see how we use that money. Perhaps we buy the whole fixed link back off from the equity fund to start off with? Anyway the Isle of Wight could become the richest county in Britain and the area could be funded for excellent schools, roads, healthcare, sports facilities, beach cleaning, etc. Islanders could be given an opportunity to buy shares.
That’s one scenario….We’re sure that won’t happen but it would be good eh? Those in high places will have different ideas. The Isle of Wight fixed link referendum debate” forum can keep everyone up to speed on those sorts of decisions. At that stage it could be called the “Isle of Wight fixed link finance and build update forum”.
Please Click on the blurred image to see it in full resolution: