Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Isle of Man ferry firm in talks to improve services

The Manannan fast craft in Douglas harbour Image copyright
Image caption Damage to the Manaan forced the cancellation of services for six days over Easter

Talks have opened between Isle of Man government officials and the Steam Packet Company to discuss ways to improve ferry services.

The Department of Infrastructure said the talks will focus on "increasing the resilience" of the service.

Thousands of people had their travel plans disrupted after the Manannan ferry suffered damage put at £100,000.

But Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne said it is not feasible for the company to keep a spare vessel "just in case".

He added: "While that would be ideal, very few shipping companies have the ability to provide contingency measures for these scenarios."

'Greater resilience'

The firm said the ferry damage, which was caused by sea debris, was the "worst they have ever seen".

Repairs to the Manaan fast craft disrupted services from Douglas to Liverpool and Belfast between 3 and 10 April.

The company was also criticised by passengers for its communication of the problems.

"The department is currently considering the long-term provision of strategic sea services and part of that work will look at creating greater resilience on our ferry routes," continued Mr Gawne.

"We will also see what can be done at the Sea Terminal and Airport to assist operators by providing accurate and up-to-date information to passengers".

Since 2007, there have been 17 recorded major incidents where Steam Packet vessels have been damaged.

The ferry company said it did not know what caused the latest cancellations but it's not believed fishing gear was responsible.

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