Isle of Man ferry services consultation

Discussion, observation and sightings of ships, shipping operators and other matters, primarily around Ireland, but also abroad.
Bus tuaithe
Full Member
Joined: 20 Mar 2009, 21:28

15 Oct 2015, 14:33 #1

Have your say on the future of sea services

Monday, 28 September 2015

The Department of Infrastructure is seeking feedback about the future of the Isle of Man’s strategic sea services.

A public consultation has been launched today, Monday 28 September
2015, and the responses will help to shape any new agreement for the
Island’s lifeline ferry operations.

People can submit their views via an online survey at
or in writing to Mrs Ann Reynolds, Director of Ports, Department of
Infrastructure, Sea Terminal, Douglas, IM1 2RF. The deadline for
responses is 5pm on Monday 9 November.

Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne MHK is encouraging members of the
public, businesses and passenger groups to have their say on this
important issue.

He said:
‘The Department is reviewing the long-term future of ferry services
in order to secure the best possible outcome for the Isle of Man and its
economy. Our sea links have played a crucial part in the Isle of Man’s
development and quality of life for centuries and will continue to do so
for many years to come.’
The Minister added:
‘I expect the public consultation to generate comments about current
service standards and delivery, but I would urge people to also think
about broader issues. We need to explore how the Isle of Man can best
secure its key trade route to protect economic activity and standards of
living. This process is not asking for comment on the Isle of Man Steam
Packet Company; it is a consultation about the issues and priorities
that affect all our futures.’
The current ferry arrangements are governed by the Linkspan User
Agreement, which provides preferential access to the Department’s
linkspan in return for a guaranteed minimum level of service. The
agreement was first approved by Tynwald in 1995 to provide long-term
stability and to enable Government to control aspects of fares and

Minister Gawne told Tynwald in July how the User Agreement had helped
the Isle of Man to secure modern ships, market growth, competitive
fares and improved services.

The current User Agreement
runs until 2020, with a six-year extension option that can be triggered
by the Department or the current provider, the Isle of Man Steam Packet

The Department is considering its long-term strategic plans and has
already established that a number of experienced ferry operators may be
interested in bidding for the Isle of Man contract if it is put out to a
competitive tender. Consequently, the Department is looking at three
options –
  • Respect the current User Agreement and start a tender process in
    2022, so that a potential new operator would be in a position to take
    over in 2026.
  • Agree to a request from the Steam Packet to end the current User Agreement early and then go out to market.
  • Invite the Steam Packet to propose a new agreement that offers such
    exceptional value to the Isle of Man that Tynwald can agree the benefits
    outweigh the advantages that could be gained from competitive
The Department will report on the results of the public consultation later this year.

Minister Gawne has also established a working group of Tynwald
Members to review the responses, to provide support in assessing any
proposal made by the Steam Packet Company and to help the Department
gain the best possible understanding of what Manx residents and visitors
want from any future agreement. The group comprises Minister Gawne as
chair, Bill Malarkey MHK, vice-chair, Chris Thomas MHK, Graham Cregeen
MHK and Geoffrey Boot MHK.

Issued By ... -services/
Personal comments:The low frequency and sometimes user-unfriendly sailing times on the Dublin-Douglas route leave a lot to be desired and make it difficult to take a short break on the Island. A day trip in either direction is totally out of the question.
There doesn't seem to be a single coach tour, either from Ireland or from the Island using the route. Surely a missed opportunity.