Hovertravel is a ferry
company operating from Southsea, Portsmouth to Ryde, Isle of Wight, UK.
are the only company operating in Britain with passenger
hovercraft, after Hoverspeed
using their craft in favour of catamarans
. Hovertravel are now the world's
oldest hovercraft operator.
company operates between Southsea Common, next to Clarence Pier,
Terminal facilities are provided at both
ends, and services run every 30 minutes during daylight hours.
However, in high season (generally July and August) the frequency
increases to every 15 minutes or less. The crossing time is
less than 10 minutes, and is therefore the fastest route across
The Solent from land to land.
However, the inconvenient
site of the Portsmouth terminal means this is not reflected for
The "Hoverbus" at the Southsea
At Southsea, the terminal is located on Southsea Common
, next to Clarence Pier.
It is also
near to the aquarium, although further from
Castle. It is also a significant distance from
Portsmouth Harbour railway
station and Portsmouth
and Southsea railway station.
This is because when the hovercraft started
running in the mid 20th century, the area near Harbour station (the
ideal location due to its good connections) was a mixture of
residential and naval space, with all remaining land occupied by
the fishing harbour and Wightlink
problem is solved with a Hoverbus link, operated by
Stagecoach, which runs between the
Southsea Terminal and Portsmouth & Southsea Station and
Portsmouth city centre, it also now serves The Hard
It is timed to connect with all hovers on the
basic 30-minute timetable.
The terminal refurbishment was completed in April 2009 with new
lighting and toilets and a general cleaning up. A new wall was
built separating the Hoverport and the esplanade complete with
At Ryde, the terminal has recently been rebuilt. The new building
was opened by the Duke of
in 2004. It is located conveniently near to Ryde Esplanade
railway station and Ryde Bus Station, however passengers must cross
the railway by means of a footbridge, as they are located on the
opposite side of the line.
The whole complex is due for
rebuilding, commencing in 2007, in order to create a new transport interchange
. Also nearby is
the Ryde Arena ice rink
and LA Bowl.
Most bus services connecting with the hovercraft on the Island are
run by Southern Vectis
. In addition
to these routes, Wightbus
, another local
operator, run Service 20 that stops nearby. Island Line trains run from there
to Brading, Sandown, Lake and Shanklin, where a connecting bus can take you to Ventnor or St Lawrence. By changing trains at
Smallbrook Junction, one can also visit the Isle of Wight Steam
details of services from near the Ryde terminal can be found at
A recent innovation is the introduction of Hoverliner
tickets that allow travel from an origin railway station on the UK
mainland, on the Hoverbus, a crossing on the hovercraft and travel
on the Island
, and return journey. These are also available for
journeys starting on the Island, the only difference being the name
used, which is Hoverline
On 4 March 1972 Hovertravel's SR-N6 012 overturned off Southsea
with a loss of 5 lives, including one person missing presumed
drowned. This was the world's first fatal accident involving a
commercially operated hovercraft, and the first fatal accident
involving a hovercraft in the United Kingdom.
The craft en-route from Southsea to Ryde was hit by a very large
freak wave, after a strong beam wind against an adverse tide
combined to produce a dangerous beam sea. The hovercraft overturned
about quarter of a mile (400 metres) offshore. After rescuing all
visible survivors, the hovercraft was towed ashore at Southsea.
There have been no serious incidents since.
The Past and current fleet
- SRN6-025 (1968-1980)
- SRN6-026 (1966)
- SRN6-130 (1965-1980)
- Freedom (19??-1983)
- Tenacity (1983-1990)
- Resolution (1983-1987)
- Perseverance (1985-1988)
- Double-O-Seven (1989-2003)
- Idun Viking (1998-2002)
Image:Hovercraft leaving Ryde.JPG|The Solent
Express leaving Ryde.Image:Hovertravel fleet at Ryde.JPG|The
Hovertravel fleet at Ryde.
Hovertravel hovercraft have occasionally
been chartered to operate temporary services across the Firth of Tay between Carnoustie and St
Andrews in connection with major golf
tournaments (due to Carnoustie's relative lack of hotel
accommodation). The Solent Express was chartered to
operate an experimental service across the Firth of
Forth (marketed as "Forthfast") between Portobello (Edinburgh) and Kirkcaldy between 16-28 July 2007.