Daily Echo reporter Chris Yandell finds out if a ferry to Portsmouth is quicker than the M27

Daily Echo reporter Chris Yandell arrives at Lymington ferry terminal ahead of his trip

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage made the claim it was quicker to get from Lymington to Portsmouth via the Isle of Wight ferry rather than the M27

First published in News
Last updated
Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter, New Forest

IT was a claim that was guaranteed to raise eyebrows on both sides of the Solent.

Hampshire MP Caroline Dinenage stood up in the House of Commons and declared it was often quicker to travel from Lymington to Portsmouth via the Isle of Wight than to make the journey by road.

Ms Dinenage was calling for more Government cash to be spent on improving the M27 and other traffic-choked routes in the south.

The Tory MP for Gosport said: “I’ve heard 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.”

It did indeed seem an unlikely scenario – not least because of the £81 cost of buying two day return tickets.

So the Daily Echo decided to put Ms Dinenage’s claim to the test – with what appeared to be entirely predictable results.

Faced with several alternatives I took my car instead of travelling as a foot passenger and crossing the Island by taxi.

Daily Echo:

Chris arrives at Yarmouth, Isle of Wight

The journey took three-and-a-half hours compared with the one-and-a-quarter hours it takes on average to drive from Lymington to Portsmouth when traffic is flowing freely.

Wightlink rules required me to arrive at the Lymington terminal half an hour before my ferry was due to sail.

After a pleasant 30 minutes spent studying the views across the Lymington River I was waved aboard Wight Sky and began what turned out to be a rather long and convoluted journey to Portsmouth.

It was certainly more relaxing than battling the congestion that often makes motorway journeys a nightmare.

As Wight Sky glided along the Lymington River, it was time to put my feet up with a cup of coffee – an option not open to drivers using the M27 unless they stop at Rownhams Services.

Daily Echo:

Now Chris waits at Fishbourne ferry terminal

The incredibly smooth crossing was an idyllic way to travel from one part of the south coast to another. Stunning views of the Hampshire shoreline were gradually replaced by equally magnificent scenes of the Isle of Wight as the W-class ferry made its way across the Solent.

Historic Hurst Castle was just one of the famous landmarks that came into view as the vessel completed the half-hour voyage.

The ferry docked at Yarmouth at 9.20am. I had barely begun my journey but more than an hour had elapsed since I arrived in Lymington. On a good day I could almost have reached Portsmouth by road in the same length of time.

Daily Echo:

The ferry leaves Fishbourne around an hour later

My first ferry trip was followed by a frustrating trip to the other Wightlink terminal at Fishbourne.

A temporary diversion caused by roadworks sent me along twisting country roads littered with speed cameras, 30mph restrictions and other impediments that all added to my journey time.

It was a far cry from my normal 70mph trip along the M27. The diversion meant I arrived at Fishbourne just after 10am, which meant I had to wait almost an hour for the next ferry.

In scenes similar to the motorway on a bad day I found myself surrounded by three lanes of stationary traffic and seemed to spend most of the next 60 minutes staring at the back of a red Volvo.

At last it was time to board the St Helen for the 40-minute crossing to Portsmouth.

As the city’s famous Spinnaker Tower came into view I was almost sad that my sea voyages were finally coming to an end.

Daily Echo:

Chris finally arrives in Portsmouth

But the whole trip had taken nearly three times as long as it normally takes to drive from Lymington to Portsmouth via the A337 and the M27.

It was without doubt a less stressful experience than the more conventional route.

As someone who has lived and worked in the New Forest for more than 20 years. I know how long it can take just to get from Lymington to Lyndhurst, especially when the roads are gridlocked in the summer.

I have also experienced the endless delays that occur when crashes and other incidents bring the M27 to a standstill.

On one occasion our vehicles were stationary for so long that many of us switched off our engines and got out to stretch our legs.

However, the vast majority of journeys along the M27 are far shorter than the alternative of going via the Isle of Wight.

And plans to allow drivers to use the hard shoulder between junctions four and 11 will improve traffic flow.

My two trips across the Solent aboard smooth and luxuriously upholstered vessels, with some of the best scenery on the south coast thrown in, had been an idyllic way to spend a sunny spring morning.

But in terms of time and convenience, give me the motorway any day. The return journey just flashed by.

  • Caroline Dinenage defended her comments last night, saying commuters must have taken a faster route.

She said: “I was quoting from a transport survey that had been carried out by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

“Someone said they found it easierto get to Portsmouth via the Isle of Wight but didn’t specify how they made the journey.”

One option, she said, would be to go as a foot passenger and take a taxi on the Island.

She said the catamaran service from Portsmouth to Ryde took just 15 minutes compared with the 40 minutes taken by the car ferry from Fishbourne.

“I reckon that’s the only way they could do it,” she said.

Chris Yandell believes he might have been able to complete the journey in less than two hours if he had gone as a foot passenger and had also been able to catch an earlier ferry at Fishbourne.

He acknowledged that travelling from Lymington to Portsmouth by road could sometimes take two hours or more if the traffic was very heavy.

Comments (19)

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12:24pm Sun 23 Mar 14

acid drop says...

Oh dear Ms Dinenage you have been talking B****X , but being an MP you have had loads of practice.
Oh dear Ms Dinenage you have been talking B****X , but being an MP you have had loads of practice. acid drop
  • Score: 11

12:39pm Sun 23 Mar 14

S Pance says...

So, Ms Dinenage was actually correct, then?

Echo-man Chris has admitted that it could be done in less than two hours as a foot/taxi passenger and at bad times it can take a lo, lott longer via the road.

I suggest Chris repeat his journey in the summer, going by foot/taxi on the ferry and by road during peak hours..the results would be flipped the other way round in this case.
So, Ms Dinenage was actually correct, then? Echo-man Chris has admitted that it could be done in less than two hours as a foot/taxi passenger and at bad times it can take a lo, lott longer via the road. I suggest Chris repeat his journey in the summer, going by foot/taxi on the ferry and by road during peak hours..the results would be flipped the other way round in this case. S Pance
  • Score: 3

12:40pm Sun 23 Mar 14

S Pance says...

Rayment strikes again!
Rayment strikes again! S Pance
  • Score: 2

1:03pm Sun 23 Mar 14

Mr-La-De-Da-Gunner-Graham says...

Wow, a tory talking out of their hat - who'd have thought it possible?!
Of course, anyone living in this area would have known La Dinenage's utterances were twaddle without having to send someone out to prove it, but I suppose it got an Echo hack out of his cubicle for a few hours of fresh air and social interaction etc - it's all good!
Wow, a tory talking out of their hat - who'd have thought it possible?! Of course, anyone living in this area would have known La Dinenage's utterances were twaddle without having to send someone out to prove it, but I suppose it got an Echo hack out of his cubicle for a few hours of fresh air and social interaction etc - it's all good! Mr-La-De-Da-Gunner-Graham
  • Score: 4

1:04pm Sun 23 Mar 14

solomum says...

A nice free day out for an Echo reporter. What a total waste of time and money in testing this out. Really!!
A nice free day out for an Echo reporter. What a total waste of time and money in testing this out. Really!! solomum
  • Score: -8

4:28pm Sun 23 Mar 14

charrlee says...

I expect Downfader, Gingercyclist, and New Forest Resident could have done it in 37.78936 minutes on their bikes!
I expect Downfader, Gingercyclist, and New Forest Resident could have done it in 37.78936 minutes on their bikes! charrlee
  • Score: -1

5:02pm Sun 23 Mar 14

Micle1974 says...

Some commuters might go via IOW and find it faster on certain days or at different times of the year, but not every day of the year!
Some commuters might go via IOW and find it faster on certain days or at different times of the year, but not every day of the year! Micle1974
  • Score: 0

9:24pm Sun 23 Mar 14

loosehead says...

Hydro foil from Southampton onto a Ferry to Portsmouth would it be slower or quicker than getting stuck in traffic on the motorway?
Hydro foil from Southampton onto a Ferry to Portsmouth would it be slower or quicker than getting stuck in traffic on the motorway? loosehead
  • Score: 0

9:27pm Sun 23 Mar 14

loosehead says...

I find it funny how a MP stands up & tries to get road improvements for her voters & people are on here knocking her because she's a Tory?
If only Denham & Whitehead stood up in Parliament & spoke out about the traffic chaos in Southampton? But wait they can't or it would show what a joke a labour council are.
I find it funny how a MP stands up & tries to get road improvements for her voters & people are on here knocking her because she's a Tory? If only Denham & Whitehead stood up in Parliament & spoke out about the traffic chaos in Southampton? But wait they can't or it would show what a joke a labour council are. loosehead
  • Score: -1

9:34pm Sun 23 Mar 14

derek james says...

it seems ms dinenage's assumptions are about as sensible as her father's choice of football team!
it seems ms dinenage's assumptions are about as sensible as her father's choice of football team! derek james
  • Score: 2

10:25pm Sun 23 Mar 14

dolomiteman says...

She actually said : “I’ve heard 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.”

Which is very different to the DE's claim that she said it IS quicker.
She actually said : “I’ve heard 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.” Which is very different to the DE's claim that she said it IS quicker. dolomiteman
  • Score: 1

10:54pm Sun 23 Mar 14

wknight says...

One of the real problems on the M27 is drivers using lane 3 when they want to come off at the next junction. A really good example is Hedge End to Segenworth in the morning, why is lane 3 stationary? I am going to Fareham so it should be flowing as once you get to Segenworth all 3 lanes are often clear. Instead drivers use lane 3 to try and cut in and beat the Q and drivers in lane 3 don't move over to lanes 1 &2 to help the traffic flow. once they past Segensworth. We need more driver education
One of the real problems on the M27 is drivers using lane 3 when they want to come off at the next junction. A really good example is Hedge End to Segenworth in the morning, why is lane 3 stationary? I am going to Fareham so it should be flowing as once you get to Segenworth all 3 lanes are often clear. Instead drivers use lane 3 to try and cut in and beat the Q and drivers in lane 3 don't move over to lanes 1 &2 to help the traffic flow. once they past Segensworth. We need more driver education wknight
  • Score: 1

12:02am Mon 24 Mar 14

IronLady2010 says...

Dineage needs a new job. Her current position remains obselete as no-one agrees with her.
Dineage needs a new job. Her current position remains obselete as no-one agrees with her. IronLady2010
  • Score: 0

3:18am Mon 24 Mar 14

issacchunt says...

solomum wrote:
A nice free day out for an Echo reporter. What a total waste of time and money in testing this out. Really!!
As much as the echo has many faults this was a worthwhile exercise to expose the stupid comment by an MP.
[quote][p][bold]solomum[/bold] wrote: A nice free day out for an Echo reporter. What a total waste of time and money in testing this out. Really!![/p][/quote]As much as the echo has many faults this was a worthwhile exercise to expose the stupid comment by an MP. issacchunt
  • Score: 2

9:19am Mon 24 Mar 14

Positively4thStreet says...

I guarantee the trip from Southampton to Hythe would be quicker by train than by ferry though...still,its not going to happen though is it?...Ho hum.
I guarantee the trip from Southampton to Hythe would be quicker by train than by ferry though...still,its not going to happen though is it?...Ho hum. Positively4thStreet
  • Score: 0

9:57am Mon 24 Mar 14

hulla baloo says...

issacchunt wrote:
solomum wrote:
A nice free day out for an Echo reporter. What a total waste of time and money in testing this out. Really!!
As much as the echo has many faults this was a worthwhile exercise to expose the stupid comment by an MP.
I disagree. It did not need a reporter to do the journey. Only need to look at the times you need to get there before hand, along with the departure and arrival times of the ferries.
Hardly rocket science. Still, somebody got a jolly out of it.
[quote][p][bold]issacchunt[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]solomum[/bold] wrote: A nice free day out for an Echo reporter. What a total waste of time and money in testing this out. Really!![/p][/quote]As much as the echo has many faults this was a worthwhile exercise to expose the stupid comment by an MP.[/p][/quote]I disagree. It did not need a reporter to do the journey. Only need to look at the times you need to get there before hand, along with the departure and arrival times of the ferries. Hardly rocket science. Still, somebody got a jolly out of it. hulla baloo
  • Score: 0

11:28am Mon 24 Mar 14

loosehead says...

hulla baloo wrote:
issacchunt wrote:
solomum wrote:
A nice free day out for an Echo reporter. What a total waste of time and money in testing this out. Really!!
As much as the echo has many faults this was a worthwhile exercise to expose the stupid comment by an MP.
I disagree. It did not need a reporter to do the journey. Only need to look at the times you need to get there before hand, along with the departure and arrival times of the ferries.
Hardly rocket science. Still, somebody got a jolly out of it.
do they run a hydrofoil service from the Island to Portsmouth? If they do & you get a Hydrofoil from Southampton & then one to Portsmouth it could quite easily be faster couldn't it?
[quote][p][bold]hulla baloo[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]issacchunt[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]solomum[/bold] wrote: A nice free day out for an Echo reporter. What a total waste of time and money in testing this out. Really!![/p][/quote]As much as the echo has many faults this was a worthwhile exercise to expose the stupid comment by an MP.[/p][/quote]I disagree. It did not need a reporter to do the journey. Only need to look at the times you need to get there before hand, along with the departure and arrival times of the ferries. Hardly rocket science. Still, somebody got a jolly out of it.[/p][/quote]do they run a hydrofoil service from the Island to Portsmouth? If they do & you get a Hydrofoil from Southampton & then one to Portsmouth it could quite easily be faster couldn't it? loosehead
  • Score: 1

11:29am Mon 24 Mar 14

loosehead says...

I wonder if a Hydrofoil service straight from Southampton/Lymingto
n to Portsmouth could be financially viable to operate?
I wonder if a Hydrofoil service straight from Southampton/Lymingto n to Portsmouth could be financially viable to operate? loosehead
  • Score: 0

2:31pm Mon 24 Mar 14

lowe esteem says...

If you live in Lymington, and have got to work in Portsmouth, then the Isle of Wight is surely a nice way of doing it? The alternative journey maybe short, but then so's life, enjoy it.
If you live in Lymington, and have got to work in Portsmouth, then the Isle of Wight is surely a nice way of doing it? The alternative journey maybe short, but then so's life, enjoy it. lowe esteem
  • Score: 1

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