Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Hopes for 'Year-Round' Operated Isle of Man-Liverpool Service

16th April 2024
As part of refurbishment is the Forward Lounge of fast-craft Manannan of the IOM Steam Packet – it is hoped to operate a year round service between Douglas and the ‘new’ ferry terminal in Liverpool. In March, the craft resumed seasonal service to Liverpool and last month to Dublin Port.
As part of refurbishment is the Forward Lounge of fast-craft Manannan of the IOM Steam Packet – it is hoped to operate a year round service between Douglas and the ‘new’ ferry terminal in Liverpool. In March, the craft resumed seasonal service to Liverpool and last month to Dublin Port. Credit: IsleofManSteamPacket-facebook

Once the new £70m ferry terminal in Liverpool Docks is in operation, it is hoped the Isle of Man Steam Packet can put on a year-round operated service between Douglas and Merseyside.

The Steam packet’s fast-ferry Manannan currently does not take passengers to Merseyside during the winter months. However, the 865 capacity craft did receive some modifications to allow it to berth at the new site when trails took place last month at the Princes’ Half-Tide Dock facility.

In the meantime, the latest business plan of the IOMSP shows it doesn't expect the 1998 built / 200 car capacity fastcraft, will be replaced before 2030.

As ManxRadio reports, there are questions that still hang over as to when the new terminal in the northwest of England port will be in operation, with a number of recent deadlines for opening missed.

A committee was told by the IOMSP’s Managing Director, Brian Thomson on what's expected once the new terminal is ready to welcomes passengers (to listen, click station's audio link).

The MD said that the operation of a high-speed catamaran is perhaps not the best option going forward.

Noting, last week the Packet Company confirmed that the Manannan had been damaged during a very rough crossing from Liverpool to the Isle of Man, for more the radio station also has the story here.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!