Kennedy announces plans for new ferries for Strangford and Rathlin
Stormont Executive press release - Department for Regional Development
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy has secured the £2million funding needed to begin a project for two new ferries to operate on the Ballycastle/Rathlin Island route and the Strangford/Portaferry route.
The Minister welcomed confirmation of funding as part of the Executive’s 2014-15 Capital Reallocation Exercise announcement in the Assembly today.
The Department for Regional Development is now developing an initial timetable for the project and the new ferries could be in operation by Spring 2016.
The Rathlin Island ferry service currently uses two ferries, a vehicle ferry which is supplemented by a passenger only vessel provided by the ferry operator. The Department also operates a vehicle ferry service in Strangford Lough with two vehicle ferries and a back-up passenger ferry.
Danny Kennedy said: “The new ferries will ultimately replace two of the existing ferries. On the Ballycastle/Rathlin route the MV Canna is 37 years old and on the Strangford/Portaferry route, the MV Strangford is 44 years old.
“Both ferries will be approaching the end of their economic operational life over the next few years.”
Initial estimates for the total capital investment cost is £3million for the Ballycastle/Rathlin route and £5.5million for the Portaferry/Strangford route. The successful completion of the project remains a priority for the department.
The Minister continued: “With the cost of maintenance increasing for both vessels it is more cost effective to replace them with modern and more efficient vessels.”
The Department has engaged with a range of stakeholders, including the Committee for Regional Development and local councils in both areas in September to inform them about the project.
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