RESIDENTS living in a Hampshire town can get to Portsmouth quicker on a ferry via the Isle of Wight - because the south's roads are so congested.
That was the claim made during a House of Commons debate in which a Hampshire MP criticised the county's gridlocked roads and plodding trains.
Transport minister Stephen Hammond agreed with Caroline Dinenage who described the “hidesously busy” M27 as holding back business in the region.
The Conservative MP said: “The distance between Portsmouth and Southampton is just 20 miles, yet, at peak times, that journey can take well over an hour by road.
“The journey by rail often takes the same time, as there are only two or three direct trains an hour.
“Inevitably, slow journey times and poor service frequency on the rail network mean that more and more people take to the roads, thus clogging up the already hideously busy M27.
“I have heard that it can be quicker for commuters in the extreme western end of the Solent to get to Portsmouth via the Isle of Wight, which involves taking two ferries, than by using the M27, which is clearly ridiculous."
Traffic congestion on the M27
She added: “Such wholly inadequate connections are more than just an annoyance - they hold back business.”
Speaking after the debate, Ms Dinenage said frustrated commuters from the Lymington area had told her they travelled via the Isle of Wight.
In reply, Mr Hammond - who was “born and bred in Southampton” - admitted improvements were needed, but pointed to projects in the pipeline, including: BLOB 'Smart motorway' schemes - which will allow the hard shoulder to be converted into an extra lane for motorists.
They are due to come in between junctions nine and 14 of the M3, from Winchester to Southampton, and between junctions four and 11 of the M27, from Portsmouth to Southampton.
- More than £10m pledged to tackle two 'pinch points' on junctions three and five of the M27, cutting congestion and improving safety.
- Funding for Southampton City Council's 'Bridges to Prosperity' project - for essential works on six key bridges into the docks area.
- Transport cash, to be allocated to local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) this summer, from the £2bn 'local growth fund'.
Mr Hammond told Ms Dinenage: “The powerful case that she has made has reminded us of the importance of an effective transport network for the economy.