The number of motorcyclists booked to visit TT 2014 is currently up around 6% compared with this time last year.

One of the main reasons for the increase is the Steam Packet Company’s long-term charter of the freighter MV Arrow, which has allowed for early allocation of extra capacity for vehicles during the TT festival.

Latest bookings show 11,719 motorcycles will be visiting the Island during the fortnight, while the number of cars, vans and trailers is also up 5% (to 3,953) for the same period, and the number of passengers is up 4% (to 29,519).

Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘We’re pleased with the TT 2014 figures at this stage, and it shows just one of the advantages of our investment in the charter of MV Arrow. She allows us to supplement Ben-my-Chree and Manannan during the TT period, and of course provides cover for scheduled overhaul periods.’

Starting on Monday, April 28th, MV Arrow will cover freight services during Ben-my-Chree’s biennial overhaul, with Manannan covering passenger services during the three weeks that the Ben is in dry dock. MV Arrow will also cover freight services when the Ben has three days out of service from June 19th to 21st to allow a stabilising fin, damaged during heavy weather at the start of the year, to be refitted.

‘Our freight services provide the economic lifeline for the Isle of Man and we take this responsibility very seriously,’ Mr Woodward said. ‘Securing MV Arrow on a long-term charter, which represents a multi-million pound investment provides additional flexibility to plan for scheduled maintenance periods, but also further expands our capacity for the peak TT period.’