A TEMPORARY weight restriction of 7.5 tonnes has been applied to heavy goods vehicles travelling on the Strangford Ferry from Tuesday 25th October.
From this date the main vessel, the MV Portaferry II, will be withdrawn for its annual refit and the backup vessel, and the MV Strangford, will go into service.
A spokesperson for the Department of Regional Development said, “Major maintenance work has been carried out on the MV Strangford including the fabrication and fitting of new vehicle ramps. An essential part of this work is the safe loading certification of the ramps. Whilst the new ramps have been tested for vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes further assessment is required for heavier vehicles.
“The loading assessment and testing of the new MV Strangford ramps is on-going and is expected to be completed in four weeks. Upon completion of this assessment, the temporary weight restriction on the MV Strangford will be reviewed.
“On average around 12 large commercial vehicles, including those under 7.5 tonnes, are carried each day. This means that the temporary restriction is expected to affect less than 2% of all vehicles carried.
“The MV Strangford is expected to be in service for six to eight weeks. During this time an additional sailing from Portaferry at 07.15am will be provided to meet the early morning demand.
“The Ferry Service has contacted regular HGV customers and will put in place temporary traffic signs. Customers have also been informed through the free SMS text messaging service.
“The Ferry Service apologises in advance for any inconvenience caused.”
To register for the SMS text service text “FERRY” to 66101. To stop receiving SMS text “STOP” to 6610Receiving SMS alerts is free when in the UK; charges may apply to receive outside the UK. Please check with your network operator. The registration text and Stop text will be charged at network operators standard rate. The SMS service will continue indefinitely.
New vehicle ramps were fabricated and fitted in dry dock in Harland and Wolff during the period July to October. Further assessment and testing of the ramps is required to certify that they can carry vehicles heavier than 10 tonnes. For the purposes of enabling staff to assess which vehicles can be carried the weight restriction has been set at 7.5 tonnes which is the maximum laden weight of a small lorry.
The MV Portaferry II is certified to remain in service until 31st October after which time all safety equipment must be serviced. It has been decided to start the refit before the end of October to ensure that all work is completed before the Christmas holiday period.