Morecambe Bay Hovercraft

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cuccir

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This article was published today. It sounds very very speculative to me, but an interesting idea nonetheless. The first rail service to Barrow was via Fleetwood and then boat to Roa Island, so the route has some precedent. And if it can be done in 20 minutes, then it's very much competitive, although it would be even better if it connected up to a new rail service at Fleetwood...

Full article:


In a document obtained by the Evening Mail, Hovercraft Services UK reveals plans to launch an 18-minute foot passenger service across Morecambe Bay.

The service, with up to 14 return crossings a day, would have two vessels carrying a maximum of 84 passengers each.

Nobody from Hovercraft Services was available to go into more detail, although the document projects the service could attract up to 350,000 passengers in its first year.

The scheme would involve an investment of £9.5m and include onshore passenger terminals at Barrow and Fleetwood.

Chris Clouter, port operations manager at Barrow, said he was not aware of any approach from Hovercraft Services, but hinted the service could be implemented.

“In theory, and bearing in mind I don’t know the full detail of what’s being proposed, with proper management and planning, it could be done,” Mr Clouter said.

“There is the capacity to do it but it would need to be fully coordinated.”

Hovercraft’s plans state an AP1-88/100S hovercraft would likely be used, which are the same operated between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight by Hovertravel.

A spokesman for Hovertravel, the world’s only passenger hovercraft operator, said while the vessels were much quicker than ferries, high winds and bad weather could delay sailings. Around 15,000 foot passengers sail with Hovertravel every week, the crossing taking 10 minutes on average and costing £22 for an adult return and £11.50 for a child return ticket.

The distance between Barrow and Fleetwood is roughly double that between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, while the crossing from Fleetwood to the Isle of Man could take just one hour and 40 minutes at a speed of 35 knots (40mph). Existing ferry routes from Heysham to the Isle of Man take around three and-a-half hours and cost from £38 for an adult return ticket and £36 for a child return ticket.

In the document, Hovercraft Services claims its Barrow-Fleetwood crossings would cut journey times by 70 per cent. By road, the route can take anything up to two hours.

Hovercraft Services, a subsidiary of Preston-based coach firm Walton’s Coach Hire, has also written to the prime minister about the plans. In the letter, owners Peter and Mary Walton said: “Hovercraft Services UK believes, with direction, support from both you and cabinet ministers, a similar service has the potential to be in operation on the North West coast by 2013.”

As well as potentially attracting more tourists to the area, the service could also be used by commuters – such as Centrica staff who work between Barrow and Heysham, as well as encouraging individuals to move to the area.
 
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WestCoast

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Ah, I was expecting Walton's Coaches to pop up. Basically, they seriously proposed resurrecting the Blackpool/St. Annes to Southport Hovercraft service (which ran for one season in the 1970s) a few years ago. They contacted the press, gave details e.t.c, but absolutely nothing came from it. To me, that route made more sense.

Add to that, I am not convinced there is all that much demand from Fleetwood to Barrow to justify the huge ongoing costs of providing a service. The port has already lost public sailings to the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland, in fact you can go nowhere from Fleetwood. There is no rail link (aside from the trams from Blackpool) and the road links from the M6/M55 aren't fantastic either. People heading to the lakes from the Midlands and South aren't going to find it quicker to take a detour to Fleetwood from the M6!
 
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jopsuk

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Chances of this going the same way as the Stagecoach cross-Forth hovercraft service? (couple of trials, no actual service)
 

snail

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I am not convinced there is all that much demand from Fleetwood to Barrow to justify the huge ongoing costs of providing a service. The port has already lost public sailings to the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland, in fact you can go nowhere from Fleetwood. There is no rail link (aside from the trams from Blackpool) and the road links from the M6/M55 aren't fantastic either. People heading to the lakes from the Midlands and South aren't going to find it quicker to take a detour to Fleetwood from the M6!
I agree with you. With a decent rail connection it would reduce Preston-Barrow timings considerably but there isn't one. Fleetwood can only just support a ferry service to Knott End (across the river), how is it going to support a cross-bay service? Nice idea, but in the wrong place.
 

Greenback

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This has even less chance of happening than the catamaran service across the Bristol Channel that was proposed a few years ago but never got off the ground!
 

daikilo

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If I had a hovercraft to experiment with I would consider say Rhyl/Hoylake/Liverpool Liver in peak, probably twice morning and twice evening. Not sure what I would do for the rest of the day though.

If you haven't experienced the hover, do so, it is unique.
 

giblets

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Very much wishful thinking, but an SRN4 on the Isle of Man route would be great, aren't the ones at the hovercraft museum for sale.
Maybe even just for the summer or round about the TT races! Think they would be even quicker too!

Edit: Even Barrow-Fleetwood would be a great advantage for people with a car!
 

aylesbury

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There is already a hovercraft service on Morcambe Bay but its not for passenger service its run by the RNLI as an effective means of rescuing persons in trouble in the bay.
 

giblets

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Those N4s are not for sale and in any case would cost far too much to restore to use now.
Peter, weren't you working on some hovercraft project some time ago? Think I may have chatted to you about it at the Green Man (part of concordesst, though I don't expect you to remember!). Is that still moving forward?
 

Peter Mugridge

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Goodness, yes - it is.... slowly but it is still very much active. Have a look at my website http://www.hover-gen.com/ ;there's a big page about it on there.

I do vaguely recall your user name on the Concorde site, yes. Haven't seen you there for a while though?
 

giblets

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Yes, not been on there in a while, though I do pop my head over there every now and then and post. My highlight was being able to walk on BBDG's wing when they were putting her together!
Hope the hovercraft goes well, guess interest might be Canada, Indonesia type locations for it.
 
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