Page last updated at 12:34 GMT, Monday, 14 September 2009 13:34 UK

New 7m ship for ferry crossing

The Julia
The new ship has over 300 cabins and could carry 440 cars

A co-operative behind plans to restore the Swansea to Cork ferry says it has bought a new ship for almost £7m.

The Julia, which will operate under the Fastnet Line brand, is due to start operating on the route from March.

The service, which started in 1987, has not run since late 2006 when the previous vessel was sold.

Welsh transport minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said it would reinstate an important trade and tourism link between Wales and Ireland.

It was hoped the service would relaunch in 2009 following a campaign by businesses on both sides of the Irish Sea.

The co-operative, which raised over £2m from small investors, said it had borrowed 6.3m Euros (£5.5m) to buy the Julia at a cost of 7.8m Euros (£6.9m).

Built in 1982 it has previously sailed routes in the Scandinavian Peninsula.

The vessel has 10 decks with maximum capacity for approximately 440 cars and 30 freight vehicles and the total passenger capacity of the vessel is 1,860.

It has an array of restaurants and bars, a children's play area, and a cinema as well as over 300 passenger cabins, which operators say make her particularly suited to the night crossing.

The cooperative is looking to raise further money for operating capital.

Chairman Conor Buckley said: "We are delighted to be in the position to officially announce the purchase of The Julia and the commencement of the Cork to Swansea route in spring of next year.

"The coming weeks and months will continue to be crucial to us to gain the working capital to aid the development of the organisation."

Mr Jones said: "The resumption of the ferry service will reinstate an important link between Wales and Ireland which has the potential to bring economic benefits to both countries.

"Its value to Swansea, in particular and to Wales in general, is recognised from a trade and tourism perspective and will also enhance our international links with Ireland."

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