The Solent Forum

Working in partnership for the future


The Solent is a focus for intensive transportation activity. There is a substantial and heavily trafficked road network serving the region, rail links between most urban areas and vital ferry links to the Isle of Wight. The Solent itself is a major transport corridor for bulk freight shipping, and for international ferry links to France and Spain. There is a regional airport at Southampton.

Ferry Services

There are several ferry services operating from the mainland to the Isle of Wight, cross channel services to France, the Channel Islands and Spain and local services across rivers and harbours. Additional waterbus services operate in the summer months.

Island Services


Portsmouth International Port sails to the following locations:



The area is served by a good, but heavily congested, network of motorways and trunk roads M27, A27(T), M3 and A3(M) supplemented by adjacent key routes, principally the A27 and A32. The Isle of Wight is served by several main A roads with Newport as the central hub.


There are numerous mainline and local rail stations on the south coast of Hampshire, including rail freight from Southampton Container Terminals, around thirty percent of containers passing through the port are carried by rail. Services provided by four operators connect to major destinations including Southampton, Portsmouth, London, the South Coast, Brighton, South Wales, Bristol and Salisbury.

The Island is home to the smallest train operating company in the United Kingdom's National Rail network, the Island Line, running just 8.5 miles from Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin.


The majority of scheduled bus services in Hampshire are provided by First, Stagecoach and Bluestar. The Isle of Wight has a comprehensive bus network, operated by Southern Vectis, it links most island settlements with Newport as the central hub.


The Solent is a busy shipping lane with vessels visiting Portsmouth, Southampton, Cowes and Langstone Harbour. Southampton's sea approaches are both a major international waterway and a strategically important local transport corridor. There are around 150,000 ship movements annually, ranging from the very largest ships of their type in the world to local ferries.