The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has announced plans to expand the motorcycle capacity on its fast craft Manannan by 30%, which will provide the capacity for thousands of extra motorcycles during the 2015 TT.
A new mezzanine vehicle deck will be fabricated this autumn for Manannan and installed prior to each TT, accommodating an extra 300 motorcycles each way every day. It will also be installed for the Isle of Man Festival of Motorcycling, which includes the Classic TT and Manx Grand Prix.
During the 2014 TT, the Steam Packet Company carried more than 12,100 motorcycles each way, an increase of 8% on the 2013 figure, and demand for travel to next year’s TT is already substantially higher than this time last year.
Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘The continued growth in the popularity of the TT has led to significant increases in demand for travel during the festival.
‘We have invested heavily over the years to significantly expand our vehicle capacity for the TT. Our vessels and shore staff work round-the-clock to maximise capacity for the event and this year we invested in MVArrow and other charters. However, in recent years we have seen motorcycle numbers for the TT and Festival of Motorcycling grow by some 25%, and we know there is an increasing demand to bring motorcycles to the Island for these events.
‘This additional capacity for motorcycles is another direct benefit of the long term charter of MV Arrow as it allows us to move high vehicles away from Manannan and onto the Ben-my-Chree, while high passenger vehicle space is freed up on the Ben by moving freight to the Arrow.’
He added: ‘We have looked at a variety of ways of meeting that demand to ensure as many fans as possible can experience the unique TT atmosphere, but additional short term charters are not available or economic and we have decided to make a significant investment in a new mezzanine deck area for Manannan.
‘Manannan already carries an impressive 1,000 motorcycles per day each way and this mezzanine deck will increase her capacity to around 1,300 each way. In the short term, this will allow for more motorcycles to be carried on the most popular crossings and we anticipate an additional 1,500 to 2,000 visiting motorcycles during the 2015 TT. In the longer term, this additional capacity will make us more self-sufficient as it has proved so difficult to source suitable charter vessels for such short periods and the investment will help us meet future demand for some years to come.
‘There has been a marked increase in demand for the Festival of Motorcycling since the launch of Classic TT, and we will be able to play our part in supporting the ongoing growth of that event and the Manx Grand Prix by using the new deck to increase capacity for the Festival.’
The extra mezzanine deck will lead to a restriction on the height of vehicles Manannan can carry during the TT and Festival of Motorcycling periods, but extra high vans and similar vehicles will be accommodated on Ben-my-Chree instead.
The intention is to release the additional motorcycle capacity for TT2015 deposit bookings at 08:30am on Monday 28th July 2014. To book visit www.steam-packet.com or call 01624 661661.
To enable the additional capacity to be added to the reservation system, sailings for the TT2015 period (Wednesday 27th May to Monday 15th June 2015) will be closed from midday on Sunday 27th July 2014 in preparation for release at 08:30am the following day.
UPDATE - 17:30 22/07/2014
Following our announcement that a mezzanine vehicle deck will be added to Manannan to allow for increased numbers of motorcycles to be carried during the TT, we have received some questions about how passengers will be accommodated on board the vessel. We would like to clarify that Manannan has a maximum passenger capacity which will not be exceeded and the number of seats on the vessel always exceeds the passenger numbers. TT fans were sometimes unable to book their motorcycle on a number of sailings as the vehicle deck was already fully booked. The new mezzanine deck will give more fans the opportunity to bring their motorcycle with them. There will be capacity for an additional 100 motorcycles per sailing which equates to a maximum of 300 per day.