Ferry News

Game-changer ... £1bn four-year boost for UK ferry industry

Cruise lines usually make the big headlines with a procession of new mega-million-pound ships, but for next four years ferry companies will be grabbing a share of the action as well with new, record-breaking vessels and upgraded services.

With more than £1bn being spent on new ships, port and service facilities, statistics released by Discover Ferries reflect the sustained popularity of ferry travel.

Red Funnel's East Cowes terminal
Phase 1 of Red Funnel’s relocated East Cowes ferry terminal will be completed by the summer

Says director Emma Batchelor: “More than 39 million passenger journeys are made by ferry to UK islands, the Isle of Man and Ireland, France, Spain and Holland,” she said “and those sustained numbers are enabling ferry operators to invest with confidence in new ships and new routes.

“Ferry travel today is transformed compared to a decade ago and enjoys a loyal following of travellers who value comfort and space. In the next four years the scale of this investment will see another step change in service for travellers.”

Discover Ferries is an industry body representing 10 ferry operators in the UK and Ireland, promoting ferry travel and holidays.

Entering service in 2018

Irish Ferries is introducing its new £128m cruise ferry W.B. Yeats, currently being built in Germany and expected to weigh in at 55,000 tons. It will sail between Holyhead and Dublin from mid-September 2018, delivering additional capacity for 1,885 passengers and crew and 1,200 cars per crossing, onto the busiest ferry route between the UK and Ireland.

Red Funnel Isle of Wight Ferries is investing £7m in a new high speed catamaran Red Jet 7 which is being built at the Wight Shipyard Company. The 277 passengervessel will come into service between Southampton and West Cowes in early July and is a sister ship to Red Jet 6. In addition, Red Funnel has also given the green light to a £10.5m investment to extend and relocate its East Cowes ferry terminal. Phase 1 will be completed by the summer with the final phase delivered by 2020.

New for summer 2018 is Wightlink’s Victoria of Wight – a new hybrid car ferry operating between Portsmouth and Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight able to carry the equivalent of 178 cars and more than 1,000 people on each crossing. Powered by hybrid energy, the new ferry has a host of features to minimise the ship’s impact on the Solent and its shoreline. New double deck loading ramps have also been built at Wightlink’s ports at Portsmouth and Fishbourne as part of the £45m investment, for faster loading and unloading times.

Wightlink's new ferry Victoria of Wight
Wightlink’s new hybrid car ferry Victoria of Wight with operate between Portsmouth and Fishbourne from the summer

Later in the year, Caledonian MacBrayne ferry customers will benefit from the UK’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) passenger ferry, MV Glen Sannox. The innovative dual fuel vessel is the first of two LNG ferries being built as part of a £97m contract. The 102-metre, roll-on/roll-off ferry, is designed to carry 127 cars or 16 HGVs or a combination of both and up to 1,000 passengers. The vessel is due to be delivered to ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac Ferries Ltd) in Winter 2018/2019.

Ferry travellers to the Clyde island of Arran will also soon be able to benefit from a major upgrade to the terminal facilities at the port of Brodick. The extensive redevelopment project represents a major investment of around £30m, led by CMAL, with support from Transport Scotland, North Ayrshire Council, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and Coastal Communities Fund.

Entering service in 2019

In March 2019, work will begin on Brittany Ferries’ new £175m state-of-the-art ship named the Honfleur, which will operate on the popular Portsmouth-Caen route. The ship will be built in the Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellshaft shipyard in Germany and will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). Every aspect of Honfleur’s interior has been carefully considered with the digital age in mind. Free Wi-Fi will come as standard in all cabins and public spaces, and a digital information lounge will serve as her focal point. Quiet lounges, panoramic views and reading areas will complement cabins designed to sooth and reflect the unique ambience of a short voyage by sea.

Stena Line’s ambitious development plan involves the construction of four new RoPax vessels which are being built at the AVIC Shipyard in China. The four new 1,000 passenger ships will be delivered during 2019 and 2020 with Stena having an option on a further four vessels as part of the overall contract. They will be 50 per cent larger than today’s standard RoPax vessels.

Ferry companies are also investing in improving services on existing fleet and ships. Red Funnel has worked with Hogia Systems to introduce a new centralised customer information service which ensures travellers receive timely and consistent travel information across all multi-media platforms.

Honfleur of Brittany Ferries
Work will begin on Brittany Ferries’ new £175m state-of-the-art ship Honfleur in March 2019

Entering service in 2020 and beyond

As well as W.B Yeats, Irish Ferries has ordered a second new cruise ferry which will start sailing between the UK and Ireland in 2020. To be built in Germany at a cost of £147m, the new ship will be the largest cruise ferry in the world in terms of vehicle capacity, offering space for up to 1,500 cars, or up to 330 freight trucks. Weighing in at approximately 67,300 tonnes, itwill be designed specifically to sail between Holyhead and Dublin.
The additional capacity of the new ship on the Holyhead/Dublin route will, by 2020, allow W.B. Yeats to sail between Ireland and France year round.

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