New Mersey ferry to be built for first time in 60 years at Bikenhead shipyard

The State-of-the-art ferry will be the first in more than 60 years. Credit: Liverpool City Region

The first new Mersey Ferry in more than 60 years has been commissioned.

Making the announcement, Mayor of Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram said that the multi-million pound project will "ensure that the iconic Ferry Cross the Mersey will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come."

It is expected that the vessel will be constructed at the historic Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead, supporting jobs, apprenticeships and development opportunities for the region.

Steve Rotheram said: "The Mersey Ferries are not only a vital transport link between communities in the Liverpool City Region, they're also an important part of our identity.

"But, as the current vessels are older than the Gerry and the Pacemakers song that helped make them world famous, they are becoming harder and harder to maintain and definitely in need of an upgrade.

"There have been boats crossings the Mersey since the 12th century and, thanks to our investment, here they’ll stay…"

An existing Mersey ferry. Credit: ITV News

The new ferry will be designed to provide passengers with greater comfort, accessibility and an overall improved experience, in line with feedback received during consultation in 2018.

There are also plans for extensive upgrade works on one of the existing vessels, to boost its performance and reliability.

The new ferry will be used for events and river cruises while also maintaining its role as a key part of the Liverpool City Region public transport system.

Janette Williamson, leader of Wirral Council and Deputy Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said: "It’s fantastic news that there will be a brand new Mersey Ferry, and that is set to be built here on the Wirral.

"This decision will bring huge benefits to the Liverpool City Region whilst safeguarding the vital cross-river link the ferries provide for generations to come."

It is expected that the project will see Wirral-based shipbuilders Cammell Laird work with Dutch naval engineering firm Damen on the build.

Cammell Laird in Merseyside Credit: Andy Bonner, ITV Granada

Shipbuilders Cammell Laird have a long heritage with Mersey Ferries, having built 15 of the vessels dating back to 1836 as well as well as helping to maintain the current fleet.

David McGinley, Chief Executive of Cammell Laird said "Cammell Laird have long been a proud part of the Mersey Ferries story and would be delighted for this to continue into the future.

"We are very close to agreeing the final contract arrangements and look forward to helping to deliver a new Mersey Ferry for the people of our city region."

The building of a new ferry and upgrade works to one of the existing vessels are the latest investments made by the Combined Authority as part of its 20-year Mersey Ferries strategy, with others including the multi million pound upgrade works at Seacombe Ferry Terminal and funding for the Eureka! Science + Discovery attraction.

This agreement is subject to final negotiations and contract award.

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