Red Funnel is pleased to announce that it is reinstating its Hi-Speed Red Jet service, between Southampton and West Cowes on a limited timetable, effective Monday 29th June.
The Red Jet service has been suspended since 18th April following reduction in demand and the need to maintain resilience within the Red Funnel operation as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In order to support the requirements of customers such as key workers and commuters returning to work, as well as those travelling to and from the Island in line with current government guidance, the restarted service will initially offer three crossings in the morning and three in the evening from each side of the Solent, seven days a week.
The revised daily timetable has been determined in line with regular commuter and peak travel times, and will be as follows:
Departing Southampton (Terminal 2):
- Morning: 05:15, 06:45, 08:15
- Evening: 15:45, 17:15, 18:45
Departing West Cowes:
- Morning: 06:00, 07:30, 09:00
- Evening: 16:30, 18:00, 19:30
Collins: Extremely challenging few months
Fran Collins, CEO of Red Funnel, commented:
“We are absolutely delighted to be bringing our Red Jet service back into operation having had to take the difficult decision to suspend the service back in April.
“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome our Hi-Speed customers and team back on board and I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly thank our customers and staff for their ongoing patience and understanding during what has been one of the most difficult times in Red Funnel’s 160 year history.
“The last few months have been extremely challenging for both our customers and our teams, and reinstating the Red Jet service feels like a significant step in the right direction.
“We’re very much looking forward to welcoming customers back on board next Monday and hope to be able to increase the service in line with the relaxing of government restrictions.”
The capacity of the Red Jet fleet will be limited to allow social distancing, and customers will continue to be encouraged to socially distance for their safety and wellbeing. Passengers are asked to take heed of new signage and markings installed on board and inside Red Funnel’s terminals.
On board signage will show passengers which seats are in use to allow adequate distancing between passengers when travelling. Face coverings continue to be mandatory for all passengers, except in specific cases of exemption, as outlined by the government.
Customers will be kept up to date of any changes as and when Red Funnel is able to add more crossings or increase capacity. The company endeavours to return to a full timetable and increased capacity as soon as it is able to do so and will continue to adapt its operations in line with the latest government advice.
Food and drinks on board
Red Funnel is also pleased to announce that a limited range of food and drinks is now available on board its vehicle ferries, and from 26th June will also be available from Terminal 1 in Southampton.
Food and beverages are to be consumed either on outside decks or purchased as a takeaway to be enjoyed after the crossing.
The range will include hot and cold drinks, and pre-packaged food including sandwiches, baked goods and snacks.
In addition, Red Funnel’s Signature Lounge has now reopened, limited to 20 passengers per crossing.
The cost of entry will be reduced by 50% to £5 per person to reflect the temporary suspension of the Lounge’s normal food and beverage offering, but includes a takeaway beverage at the end of the crossing.
Collins: It is safe to travel with Red Funnel
Fran Collins added:
“With these changes to our retail offering and our Red Jet service back in place, we expect to see changes in demand for our vehicle ferries, particularly during peak travel times as the Red Jet is often the preferred service for commuters.
“I want to emphasise that it is safe to travel with Red Funnel and that we have implemented a myriad of measures to ensure the continued safety and wellbeing of our staff and passengers.
“I encourage customers to visit the Website to review these measures ahead of sailing with us, and continue to advise that the public assess their travel needs before using our ferry services.”
For the time being, the Quayconnect shuttle bus service in Southampton will remain suspended until further notice. Food and beverage services also remain suspended in East Cowes, West Cowes and Southampton (Red Jet) Terminal 2, as well as hot food on board Red Funnel’s vehicle ferries.
The following is shared by Isle of Wight council press office, in their own words. Ed
The leader of the Isle of Wight Council has hailed the return of ‘peak time’ hi-speed ferry services as a significant step on the Island’s road to recovery from coronavirus.
Councillor Dave Stewart welcomed today’s (Tuesday 23rd June) announcement by Red Funnel that it is to reinstate Red Jet services at regular commuter and peak travel times from next Monday (29th June).
He said the close co-operation that had enabled lifeline services to be maintained during the pandemic would continue to ensure people could ‘sail safe’ as lockdown restrictions were carefully eased over the coming months.
Councillor Stewart said,
“Our ferry operators are making enormous effort to ensure lifeline services are maintained during these very difficult times.
“They have been working closely and in a co-ordinated fashion alongside our transport infrastructure board (TIB) and with the crucial support of the Department for Transport and our MP.
“The reinstatement of commuter services is a significant step on the Island’s road to recovery, not only to provide better connectivity to and from the mainland, but also to support our drive to open up the visitor economy in line with government advice.
“We are all continuing to work together to ensure a phased recovery of our ferry services, including the reintroduction of those which support our vital summer visitor economy. We want to safely show the Island is open for holidays this year.
“This will continue to involve our usual level of caution and safety for our Island community, but also to provide a recovery pathway for this crucial business sector.”
TIB chairman, Christopher Garnett, said it was essential ferry timetables could be adjusted to meet any possible increases in demand arising from further changes in government regulations about tourism and travel.
The board meet regularly to review the current cross-Solent ferry services with operators Hovertravel, Red Funnel and Wightlink, and also to consider the expected increased requirement for services over the summer months.
Mr Garnett said,
“The TIB is ensuring cross-Solent services are appropriate to support the recovery of the Island economy.”
With further easing of restrictions expected next month, Councillor Ian Ward, Cabinet member for transport and infrastructure, said social distancing and actions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 were more essential than ever.
He said the council was working with ferry operators to ensure arrangements for appropriate social distancing were in place on vessels.
Red Funnel, for example, has said the capacity of the Red Jet fleet will be limited to allow social distancing while face coverings continue to be mandatory for all passengers, except in specific cases of exemption, as outlined by the government.
Councillor Ward said,
“There will be people who still have concerns about the impact of taking steps towards recovery but, rest assured, these will be managed in a safe and sensitive way.
“In a normal year, almost 40 per cent of our annual numbers of visitors would be here in the period July to September, therefore this is a vital period for hospitality businesses and jobs that rely on the tourist trade in the summer to support them through the winter.
“As a council, we have the difficult balancing act of supporting these businesses, which are vital to the economy, while at the same time trying to keep the community safe and managing any spread of the infection.
“Our message is that ‘the Island is Waiting’ and that the council, in partnership with Visit Isle of Wight, the tourism sector and our ferry companies, are working to ensure we are not left behind with the competitive 2020 UK tourist offer, but that people can book now to travel later.
“We encourage people to plan their visit to the Island and to sail safe and stay safe.”
News shared by Enya on behalf of Red Funnel. Ed