Romsey and Southampton North MP Caroline Nokes visited Southampton’s historic Red Funnel ferry service on Thursday to discuss the significant plans for investment in both Southampton and Cowes.
Red Funnel, which has been serving the city for over 150 years, is planning an upgrade to it’s Southampton base, including a brand new terminal for both the Red Jet and vehicle services and has submitted proposals for a similar project in Cowes, promising a boost to both local economies. By moving to the multi-use Trafalgar Dock in Southampton, plans can progress for the new £450m Royal Pier Waterfront development which could create up to 600 jobs for Southampton.
Caroline, who since December 2015 has been Parliamentary Private Secretary to Minister for ports Robert Goodwill MP, had the opportunity to visit the bridge on the Hi-Speed service to Cowes before touring the facility building the newest member of the fleet, Red Jet 6. The new catamaran is being built by Shemara and is the first of its kind to be built on the Island for 15 years. Returning on the recently refurbished roll on/roll off vehicle ferry Caroline was able to see some of the new facilities on board including lounges for both passengers with children and those with pets.
“I am really pleased to hear of the investment Red Funnel is putting in to Southampton with the new, modern terminal project which will open up new possibilities for the Royal Pier and could create thousands of jobs for the area.
I was struck by how family orientated the company is, with so many crew members telling me how pleased they were to work at sea all day but return home to their families in the evening.
I very much look forward to visiting again when Red Jet 6 comes into service and when the new terminal opens next year.”
Kevin George, Chief Executive of Red Funnel said:
‘We were delighted to welcome Caroline aboard our Red Funnel service to discuss our investment plans which include; £15million pound terminal redevelopment plans for Southampton and Cowes, £6.8 million refurbishment of our Roll-On,Roll-Off ferries, and the construction of Red Jet 6 – a new £6million catamaran which will service our fast Solent route, built on the Isle of Wight.
At Red Funnel we are particularly proud of our decision to build our new Red Jet vessel on the Island which has helped re-establish the building of large high speed aluminium vessels of this kind after a gap of 15 years, not only on the Isle of Wight, but in the UK. Caroline was shown around the factory in East Cowes and was able to talk to some of the 50 new skilled jobs that have been created on the Island thanks to our investment.
We look forward to welcoming her on board again soon.’
Red Funnel carries about 40% of passengers to and from the Isle of Wight, despite operating only a third of the routes and is a lifeline for those who live on the Island and work in Southampton.