We operate the ferries 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in all weathers and to achieve this there is a significant planned maintenance programme. A lot of our maintenance is carried out while the vessels are afloat and not on scheduled service in off-peak periods, but some maintenance activities need to be carried out during refits in dry dock conditions.

The refits also give Lloyds Register and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) the opportunity to carry out their 5 yearly dry docked inspections which are aimed at ensuring that the ferries are in good condition, and that they are safe to operate

Following an open tender procurement exercise, the contract to complete the next three refits was awarded to A&P Falmouth. A&P have previously refitted the ferries, so they know them well.

The currently planned periods for the refits are:

PLYM II - 20 September 2018 to 30 October 2018 - COMPLETED

TAMAR II - mid April 2019 to mid May 2019

LYNHER II - mid April 2020 to mid May 2020

The periods are best estimates based on the tight tidal constraints associated with removing the ferries from the chains and their return on completion of the refits. There is a lot of work that has to be done to prepare the ferries for towing, in particular the fitting of the prow support beams, so it will be necessary to take the ferries out of service a few days before the actual departure date to enable that work.

The exact dates of TAMAR and LYHNER departures will be published once the accurate tidal predictions for 2019 and 2020 are published. Weather also has potential to impact significantly on the removal and replacement process, and the ferries can only be towed in relatively calm sea states. In the event of a date changing due to issues outside our control, TBTF will advise the media and the public through our website, social media and other means.

David List, General Manager, Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry said: "We already enjoy a very strong and positive working relationship with A&P Falmouth, and are looking forward to working with them again to ensure the successful completion of this series of important mid-life refits on the Torpoint Ferries."   

Some of the key elements of the forthcoming refits are:

· replacement of systems and equipment that are becoming obsolete and unsupported by spares including replacement of major components within the sewage treatment plants and updating the power management systems for the diesel generators to the latest generation

· an extensive package of age-related electrical work that has not previously had to be done - the vessels are now 14 years old

· repainting the vessels both above and below the waterline

· working with A&P and International Paints, paint systems (both existing and new) have been identified that are more environmentally friendly than those used in the past, and because it has been possible to rationalise the range of paints being used, the levels of potential waste have been significantly reduced

· we are also working on finding innovative solutions to improve the overall longevity and maintainability of the ferries.

Whilst appreciating that the reduction in service during the refit periods is not desirable, the refits are essential and are aimed at optimising the longevity of the ferries, and ensuring the long term provision of a reliable and safe service.

Background Notes

The Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry are a joint undertaking of Plymouth City Council and Cornwall Council. A governing Committee comprising of Councillors from both Authorities is overseen by the Councils of Plymouth and Cornwall.

The crossings are operated together as a single business, entirely self-financed through tolls charged which pay for the operation, maintenance and improvement of both crossings. There is no subsidy from either the parent authorities or central government.

The Torpoint Ferry is the UK's busiest inland waterway ferry crossing. The 8,000 vehicles and 1500 pedestrians relying on the crossing each day are provided with a 24 hour service throughout the year.

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