New questions on the ferry project file |


The case of a new ferry terminal in Liverpool could be drilled below the waterline as it turned out that the project is over budget by several million pounds.

Already a year late, the device will not be completed until March 2022 at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the Steam Packet will continue to use the Pier Head Terminal until the end of the Quick Crafting Season next year.

In the House of Keys this week, Infrastructure Minister Tim Baker blamed Covid, the Luftwaffe and the design of the new Steam Packet ship for the delays. He told MHK that the delays and disruption caused by Covid have cost around an additional £ 5million and are increasing.

The cost of site reclamation work, including the treatment of unexploded war bombs, will add an additional 5% to the value of the project.

But Mr Baker said there would also be a substantial additional cost to protect the quay wall from the ferry’s bow thrusters.

He said there was an obligation to protect the assets of owner Peel Ports and his department was close to a deal. But until that happens, it would be wrong to estimate the additional cost – although he said it would be “substantial”.

Mr Baker said the contractor was working until a completion date of early March 2022 – a year later than expected – but admitted that even that date could change.

He said: “I am not going to apologize for the fact that this has lasted longer and is going to cost more because the impact of the coronavirus is significant.

“I also explained that there is an important element of the project related to the protection of owner’s assets on which we have not yet come to an agreement. This was a known unknown at the time of signing the contractual documentation.

John Quaye, chairman of Manx Independent Carriers, pointed out that the majority of crossings to and from Liverpool would use the fast Mannanan, the Ben-my-Chree or the new Manxman vessel providing weekend crossings to the Merseyside in winter. alone.

He told the Manx Independent: “What a pity that we are spending all this money on a terminal which has limited freight capacity and which will only be used for a short period of the year.”

Mr Baker told MHK that progress was being made “day by day, week by week”, but there was “still a lot of work to be done”.

Most of the land reclamation work has been completed, piles have been driven for the main terminal buildings and the access road completed.

The costs of the project have already skyrocketed and are currently budgeted at £ 38million. Mr Baker said if necessary, his department would come back to Tynwald for an additional funding vote.

But he insisted that a figure of £ 53.1million for the ferry terminal project released in a written response to a recent question from Tynwald was “completely wrong” and “pure error”.

In 2015, the Steam Packet said Peel Ports would invest £ 15million in a replacement facility for the aging Pier Head terminal – but would require a long-term financial commitment from the ferry operator. It would have been at no cost to the public purse.

But then the government got involved and the Manx taxpayer now pays the full bill.

A site has been purchased at Princes Half-Tide Dock to allow the construction of a new ferry terminal for the Isle of Man.

A 2016 report to Tynwald estimated the total cost to be in the order of £ 25million. In the 2018 budget the cost was estimated at £ 30.5million, but this latest pink pound puts the total cost at just over £ 38million.

The cost impact of Covid has been estimated at £ 5million, but “we are far from done and that figure will increase dramatically,” the minister told the Keys.

He said it was “too early to be final” on the costs of scour protection for quay walls.

While the fast craft doesn’t have bow thrusters, the Ben-my-Chree does and the new Manxman ship will have much more powerful ones, he said.

Mr Baker added: “The degree of resilience required was increased by the choice of Manxman by Steam Packet Company, which has a much greater level of horizontal water displacement, thus injecting more pressure into the wall. of the quay.

“So this cost cannot be clarified until we agree on the solution. If necessary, of course, the DoI minister, whoever he may be, can revert to Tynwald’s additional vote in due course. ‘

The cost of other problems was expected but estimated too low. The area was bombed during WWII and some of the unexploded bombs were interfering with key works and needed to be dealt with.

The site contained a great deal of archaeological interest, some of which took a long time to excavate, creating delay costs that exceeded estimates.

These delays cost around £ 8,000 a day, or 5% of the value of the program, but “we will not know until the final accounts are calculated”, the minister said. He said he was very supportive of the project. “It’s always the right thing to do,” he said.

Mr Baker said it was possible for things to improve and savings to be found, but also possible for them not to improve and savings not to be found.

“I will do absolutely everything I can to control costs and expedite delivery, but I cannot promise that we have yet met all of the challenges this program will bring,” he said.

Daphne Caine (Garff) asked what the impact of the delays would be on services to Liverpool and whether the Pier Head terminal will continue in the meantime.

Mr. Baker said it was up to Steam Packet to negotiate with its owner, but he understood that there was “no impediment to the continued use of this particular piece of equipment.”

The Steam Packet said it now plans to use the new berth from spring 2023 for the start of fast crafting services.

In the meantime, he has secured the use of the Pier Head pier until the end of 2022. Peel Ports is carrying out work, paid for by the Steam Packet, to allow its use throughout the fast-craft season of next year. .

Liverpool City Council said it is currently reviewing timelines for its Pier Head cruise terminal project given Covid’s impact on the cruise industry.

A spokesperson said: “So it is difficult to be precise on the start date of the work until a review of the impact of the coronavirus on the cruise industry and the hospitality sector. be finished. “

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