Red Funnel Ferries has announced it is making changes to its planned timetable in order to protect lifeline services to the Isle of Wight and ensure a reliable and resilient schedule for all customers.
Following reduced demand for crossings and the government’s advice regarding non-essential travel and homeworking, Red Funnel’s hi-speed Red Jet service will be reduced to an hourly service, instead of its usual half-hourly rotations. The reduced Red Jet schedule will come into effect until further notice, beginning this Wednesday 25th March with services departing at XX:45 from Southampton and XX:15 from West Cowes, 7 days a week.
The first Red Jet sailings will depart at 05:45 from Southampton and 06:15 from West Cowes Monday to Saturday, and 06:45 from Southampton and 07:15 from West Cowes on Sundays. The last Red Jet sailings will depart at 20:45 from Southampton and 21:15 from West Cowes daily.
Customers with season tickets will be contacted and invited to “freeze” their ticket until which time they wish to reactivate it.
In addition, Red Funnel will continue to maintain its current timetable on its vehicle ferries for the foreseeable future. The cross-Solent ferry operator had planned to switch to its summer timetable, offering more sailings throughout the peak spring and summer season, from 4th April; however, given the unprecedented circumstances and reduced demand, Red Funnel has confirmed that the additional sailings are not currently required.
These changes, which will remain in effect until further notice, are being put in place to ensure Red Funnel’s service is reliable and resilient in maintaining the lifeline link to and from the island, whilst doing everything it can to maintain the health, wellbeing and safety of all staff.
All customers with forward bookings impacted by the change will be contacted with information about their new sailing time (where applicable). Bookings will be moved to the next nearest crossing time, and Red Funnel is currently busy making these adjustments and politely requests that customers be patient as call volumes are currently high.
In line with government advice, Red Funnel is also suspending its food services at all terminals until further notice. Coffee, bottled beverages and pre-packaged food will remain on sale on board, however selection and availability may vary.
Fran Collins, CEO of Red Funnel Ferries, said: “As we continue to adapt our operations in response to the COVID-19 situation to ensure a reliable service to and from the island, it is more important than ever that we do our utmost to safeguard our customers, crew and front-line staff on board our ferries, and at our terminals. Following the government’s advice about non-essential travel, self-isolating and social distancing we are seeing reduced customer demand, and by running fewer services and maintaining staff levels, we have significantly increased vessel and colleague resilience in the interest of doing all that we can to ensure uninterrupted service for critical travel and freight in these unprecedented times.
“We hope our customers can appreciate that having the people to physically run our fleet and terminal services is fundamental to maintain the resilience of our operation and, as a result, we have taken the decision to run our Red Jet service against a new temporary timetable while maintaining our current timetable on our vehicle ferry services. This puts us in the best possible position to serve our customers as frequently and reliably as we can throughout this exceptional situation.”
Red Funnel will also be adding additional sailings to its dedicated freight service via Red Kestrel, in order to provide further space on vehicle ferry sailings, and to ensure the ferry company is doing all that it can to maintain the vital movement of goods and supplies to the Island.
Fran Collins continued: “We will continue to assess the situation in the coming days and weeks and will continue to keep our customers informed of any further changes. We thank our customers for their understanding as our teams work hard to continue our services during these extraordinary times, and I would also like to thank all of our staff for their commitment to keeping the Island connected.”
Keep up to date with the latest developments as to how Red Funnel is responding to Covid-19 here: www.redfunnel.co.uk/COVID-19