Date: 05 Jun 2006 00:00Source: Isle of Wight Today
Wightlink is to invest up to £10 million in two new ferries for its Yarmouth to Lymington route. It hopes the purpose-built vessels, which will be able to carry more cars than the existing ships on the route, will enter service around Easter 2008. The announcement came as the company revealed plans to improve ticket offices, catering and internet booking facilities. The company also announced a major change to its management structure and plans to revamp its corporate identity. Subjected to recent criticism over price increases since the company was bought by Australian investment bankers Macquarie, Wightlink said the announcement underlined its commitment to the Island. Funds had been found to carry out the investment through a re-financing of the company. "This programme of investment is good news for Wightlink, its staff and, most importantly, its customers," Wightlink said. "It is proof of our commitment to the Island in terms of ongoing investment in our routes and ferries in order to deliver the highest standard of customer care on cross-Solent ferry services." Most of that investment will go into the purchase of the two new Yarmouth-to-Lymington vessels for between £8million and £10million. The new ships will be able to carry more vehicles and passengers but will be similar in overall size to the existing 30-year-old Cenwulf, Cenred and Caedmon, two of which will be replaced. The fate of the two vessels to be replaced has not yet been decided. Wightlink said the new ferries would likely be run in line with the existing route timetables. "Plans are already underway to look at prospective yards to quote for the building of the vessels and naval architects and designers are being engaged," the company said. "It is hoped the successful yard will be contracted by early autumn this year," the company said. The management restructuring includes the appointment of a commercial director, general manager (operations), a marine superintendent, a retail operations manager and a customer services manager.