The Steam Packet has agreed to pay £540,000 for essential works to be carried out at the Liverpool’s Pier Head landing stage to safeguard services to the city for three more seasons.
Tynwald has agreed funding for the Manx government to buy land at Prince’s Half-Tide Dock for a new terminal.
But the Steam Packet says this will take some time to complete - and in the meantime, major investment is needed to extend the lifespan of the existing landing stage at Princes Parade for a further three years.
It will ensure fast craft services to the city can continue until the end of 2019, when a new berth will be required.
The contract to use the old landing stage at Princes Parade, described as ’time expired’ and too old to maintain, was originally due to expire on December 31 last year and owner Peel Ports had indicated that Manx ferry services would need to relocate elsewhere.
But following a request from the Steam Packet, Peel Ports has reviewed the condition of the landing stage and identified its lifespan could be extended by three years if extensive essential works are carried out later this year.
As part of the three-year contract extension the Steam Packet has agreed to reimburse Peel Ports for the works, which will cost £540,000, securing the berth until the end of Manannan’s 2019 season.
There will be no request for the Manx Government to contribute and passenger fares will not be increased to pay for the investment. Scheduled services will not be disrupted when the required remedial works are carried out.
Steam Packet chief executive Mark Woodward said: ’The future of the existing landing stage has been in doubt for some time, so we are pleased to be able to give our passengers certainty, at least in the short term.
’We know that maintaining a Liverpool route is vitally important to many people in the island as well as to developing the visitor market. We have now secured an immediate solution, but new facilities will be required longer term.’
He said the Steam Packet would have preferred to remain at Princes Parade, as it is a central location convenient for passengers, but that is not viable longer term as Liverpool City Council wants to create a dedicated cruise terminal there.
Birkenhead 12 Quays is not suitable for fast craft, there are currently no other Merseyside berths available.
Mr Woodward said the new terminal at at Prince’s Half-Tide Dock will take time to complete. ’Our significant investment to retain the current landing stage for a further three years gives Isle of Man Government the time necessary for a long-term solution to be delivered.’