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Ferry passenger numbers carried by Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for last year, were the highest for 16 years.

Figures from the operator which has routes between Douglas and Heysham, Belfast, Dublin and Liverpool, reveal more than 623,000 passengers were carried on board in 2023. In addition last year there were over 196,000 vehicles loaded on and off for onward transport.

Also last year, in August, the Steam Packet’s new flagship, Manxman entered service on the core Douglas-Heysham route in which traffic figures from the new ferry were also included for last year.

The Isle of Man-England route is the only year-round operated service of the company’s four route network which also connect Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Statistics also show the highest numbers seen by the Steam Packet took place in 2007, the year that marked the TT's 100th anniversary.

After the challenges faced during the Covid pandemic, the Manx Government owned company has since seen that the numbers reflect a "positive trend" forward.

There was a rise in 2023 of more than 27,000 passengers when compared to the previous year and an increase of more than 3,500 vehicles than in 2022.

The previous highest traffic figures were during that TT centenary year, when the Steam Packet carried 632,942 passengers and 197,745 vehicles.

More from BBC News also on Merseyside developments.

Published in Ferry