Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Order placed for new Isle of Wight freight ferry

Design for new freight ferry Image copyright Red Funnel
Image caption The 74m (240ft) roll-on roll-off vessel will operate on the Southampton-East Cowes route

A new dedicated freight service across the Solent is to be introduced, ferry operator Red Funnel has announced.

A £10m freight-only ferry is to be built in the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead.

The 74m (240ft) roll-on roll-off vessel will operate on the Southampton-East Cowes route.

Red Funnel said a dedicated freight service was necessary as it had "run out of capacity" on its existing vehicle ferries.

The order marks the latest investment by the consortium of UK and Canadian pension funds which bought Red Funnel in 2017.

Image caption Red Funnel currently carries more than half the freight traffic on and off the island

Red Funnel currently carries more than half the commercial freight traffic on and off the island.

It said the new ship would free-up space on the two existing vehicle ferries.

The Cammell Laird yard is scheduled to deliver the new ferry in spring 2019.

Kevin George, chief executive of Red Funnel, said: "For the peak times when freight wants to travel - early in the morning and late afternoon, we have simply run out of capacity.

"In the peak summer when we have tourist traffic, we'll be able to take 12 lorries off our normal ferries and through the use of the mezzanine decks, we'll be able to get 100 more cars on board."

Red Funnel announced an order for a new high-speed craft and refurbishment of the Red Eagle vehicle ferry in 2017.

Business secretary Greg Clark said: "This is another vote of confidence in British shipbuilding and the excellence of our marine manufacturing sector, which we want to build on as part of our Industrial Strategy.

"Red Funnel continues to grow with this new investment in high quality UK manufacturing."

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