Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Isle of Man ferry passengers promised cheaper fares under proposed new deal

Ben-my-Chree Image copyright Manxscenes.com
Image caption The Manx government bought the ferry firm for £124m in May 2018

Cheaper ferry fares could be introduced if a new sea services agreement is approved, the Manx government said.

A new 25-year deal between the government and the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company (IOMSPCo) would replace the current user agreement.

The terms of the deal would see foot passenger fares frozen until 2021, more special offer fares introduced, and higher winter weekend fares scrapped.

Children under 16 and full-time students would travel for half-price.

A spokesperson for the Department of Infrastructure (DOI) said the changes to fares would include "foot passenger fares being frozen until a new vessel replaces the Ben-my-Chree, and 450,000 special offer fares being made available each year, compared to 275,000 under the current deal".

"In addition, children under 16 and students in full-time education will be able to travel at half-price adult fare, while higher weekend prices will not apply between 1 October and 31 March, saving up to £50 on a car-plus-two booking," he added.

'New opportunity'

An extra weekly sailing to Liverpool would be added and crossings to Ireland would be at "more convenient times".

Under the new terms, control of the linkspan on Victoria Pier would be transferred to the DOI.

The document also outlines plans for a replacement vessel for the Ben-my-Chree by the end of 2021, and a £250,000 refurbishment of the fast craft Manannan.

The company became state owned in May 2018 but is being run at "arm's length" from the government.

Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer said the change in ownership had "created a new opportunity for the future provision of services", and that passenger needs has been "at the forefront of discussion".

The agreement would also see the IOMSPCo refurbish passenger facilities at Heysham Port, and the DOI improve passenger and baggage facilities at the Sea Terminal in Douglas.

Image copyright Manxscenes.com
Image caption The fast craft Manannan would undergo a £250,000 refurbishment under the agreement

IOMSPCo chief executive Mark Woodward said the new agreement would "better fit the needs of the island" and "strikes the right balance" between the commercial needs of the company and the Manx public.

The new agreement, which will be debated by Tynwald later this month, would be signed in May and come into force on 1 January.

It would then be reviewed every five years.

The current user agreement, which caps maximum fares and sets a required number of sailings each year, is due to expire in 2026.

The ferry firm provides sailings between Douglas and five ports in the UK and Ireland.

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