Ilfracombe fast 'cat' ferry may start 2010

HOPES are still riding high that fast catamaran passenger ferries will be speeding into Ilfracombe Harbour from next year. And Chris Marrow, the ferry expert heading up the bid to establish a new Severn Link service between Ilfracombe and Wales has said a

HOPES are still riding high that fast catamaran passenger ferries will be speeding into Ilfracombe Harbour from next year.

And Chris Marrow, the ferry expert heading up the bid to establish a new Severn Link service between Ilfracombe and Wales has said an announcement could be made very soon.

The company has its eye on two 40 metre fastcat ferries, able to carry 360 passengers each at a speedy 34 knots and currently owned by Wight Link.

Severn Link has bought the right to "first refusal" of the 10-year-old vessels and if all goes well North Devon passengers could see them plying the waters between Ilfracombe, Swansea, Minehead and Penarth from next year.


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"We're in the final stages of setting up the financial structure," Mr Marrow told the North Devon Gazette.

"We are very upbeat and we hope to be in a position to make an announcement very shortly.

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"As it stands we hope to start it up next year and that is still on schedule."

He said if all went well, the Fastcat Ryde and Fastcat Shanklin - as they are at present - would be fully refurbished before being put into service, with new livery, furnishings and so on.

"I do think when one of these comes into Ilfracombe people will be blown away by the sight of it speeding up the channel at more than 30 knots," he said.

"We are also in active discussion for a state-of-the-art online booking system." Booking facilities would also be available for those without Internet access.

To help boost regeneration and tourism on both sides of the channel, it is hoped the basic �18-20 ferry crossing price could be upgraded to package trips. This could include visiting Welsh attractions for North Devon passengers or bringing Welsh customers to the surf beaches of Saunton, Croyde and Woolacombe.

Mr Marrow said plans were in hand elsewhere to restart the Swansea to Cork ferry service, which would give South West passengers a direct link to Ireland and open the region up to more Irish visitors.

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