Mersey fleet cut as ferry service is axed

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Ferry across the Mersey

One of the famous Mersey ferries is to be taken out of service in a drastic move to curb a £1million deficit.

The Royal Daffodil is being withdrawn in January,  leaving just two ferries in service linking the Wirral and Liverpool across the River Mersey.

The decision to remove the vessel, built in 1962, was made by the Merytravel’s Tunnels, Ferries and Visitor Economy Committee in the hope of saving of between £153,000 and £233,000 every year

Passenger numbers on the Mersey fleet have fallen to 650,000 and Merseytravel has called the annual million-pound deficit “unsustainable”.

Councillor Liam Robinson, Chair of Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority, told JMU Journalism: “The Mersey Ferries are an iconic part of life on Merseyside and we are committed to maintaining the ferries service for the future.

“However we recognise the financial realities of the moment, so have taken the decision in order to help reduce the current operating deficit.”

The Royal Daffodil’s workforce has been informed of the proposals and redundancies are not expected. Merseytravel insist any decisions concerning employees will not be made without union consultation.

Cllr Robinson added: “We are actively looking at other ways of reducing ferries costs overall, as well as disposing of one vessel, to cut the operating deficit. Reducing the number of vessels is just one part of the process.”

Merseytravel has stated that the Royal Daffodil’s limited external deck space makes it less suitable than the other two vessels for commuter service at busy times. The company also said it is confident it will be able to operate an almost unchanged service with the two remaining ships.

Cllr Robinson said: “The decision to take one vessel out of service will not materially affect the Mersey Ferries service to the public – and it certainly doesn’t signify any threat to this operation. Greater use of this service by tourists and local people alike will ensure a secure future for an attraction which is synonymous with Merseyside. We are totally committed to keeping the ferries on the river.”

The retired ferry may be loaned to a local trust or museum, with the option of being called back into service if necessary.

About Rachael Leitch, JMU Journalism