Essential engineering works mean there will be no weekend sailings between the Isle of Man and Birkenhead this winter.
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company has been advised by Birkenhead Terminal officials that works need to be undertaken during weekends preventing Ben-my-Chree from berthing.
With no other suitable berths available in Merseyside, the fourteen timetabled weekend sailings to Birkenhead this year (from 9th November to 5th January) will now be rescheduled to Heysham, departing Douglas at 08:00hrs and returning from Heysham at 14:30hrs. When the remainder of 2020 schedules are released (in late October) all winter weekend sailings will also be to and from Heysham at the usual timings.
Passengers affected by the change will be contacted regarding the new arrangements.
Mark Woodward, Chief Executive of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, explained: ‘This is obviously a position beyond our control but to maintain twice daily services to the UK for both passengers and freight this winter, we will instead increase the number of sailings to Heysham at weekends.
‘We will also be arranging an express coach service between Heysham and Liverpool on Saturdays and Sundays for foot passengers, arriving in Liverpool around half an hour after the coach would have normally arrived from Birkenhead. A return coach service to Heysham will be arranged, departing Pier Head at 12:00hrs.
‘Any existing bookings for Birkenhead will be offered this alternative route, with similar departure timings but a forty-five minutes reduction in crossing time.
‘A proportion of passengers and freight customers have stated they prefer Heysham due to its shorter crossing time, rail link and the new direct road link to the M6, so we are hoping any inconvenience will be kept to a minimum.’
The Steam Packet Company plans to use the Liverpool Landing Stage as normal for services operated by fast craft Manannan in 2020.
The new Manx Government berth in Liverpool is due to be available in 2021 for both fast craft and conventional services throughout the year.