Skip to main content

MCA grants temporary ability for Red Funnel passengers to remain in vehicles on select crossings

Wed, Mar 18 2020

Red Funnel today announced that it has worked with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to identify exceptional solutions to support the government’s social distancing guidance in response to COVID-19 and respond to passengers’ requests to remain in vehicles during crossings.

Whilst safety legislation requires passengers to vacate vehicle decks for the duration of the crossing, Red Funnel is pleased to announce that from Thursday 19th March it will operate a number of special “vehicle deck only” crossings, whereby the main passenger accommodation areas will be closed, and passengers must remain in their vehicles.

This “all or nothing” solution requiring all passengers to remain in vehicles is rooted in ensuring that robust safety, fire control and evacuation procedures can be maintained. A number of additional passenger safety and operational controls are also required to allow this exceptional and unprecedented exemption, and instructions will be clearly communicated to passengers prior to boarding.

Until further notice, the following vehicle ferry crossings will be restricted to “vehicle deck only” at this time, with other services operating normally:

  • Departing Southampton: 18:00, 21:00
  • Departing East Cowes: 19:30, 22:30

Vehicle space will be restricted on these crossings to due to requirements for larger gaps between vehicles as a means of ensuring adequate pathways should there be a need to evacuate. We anticipate being able to extend this exceptional service in coming days and will update our website accordingly.

Fran Collins, CEO, said: “We’d like to thank the MCA for working with us to identify solutions to allow our passengers this option during this exceptional time. Many of our customers have been in touch in recent weeks to request that this option be available and while we empathised with their requests we were legally unable to oblige until now. The MCA’s decision to provide a temporary exemption to this aspect of the safety code which applies to our operation is unprecedented and required a great deal of cooperation and lateral thinking from all parties. I’m very pleased that we are now able to provide a solution to our customers and thank our customers for their patience as we seek to adapt our operation as quickly and efficiently as we can.”

Red Funnel plans to publish further guidance on around vehicle deck only crossings on its website later today. 



For further information regarding Red Funnel, please contact:

Enya Lumley or Abi Rumney at McKenna Townsend

T: 01425 472330
E: [email protected]


Editor’s note

About Red Funnel

Red Funnel is the original Isle of Wight ferry company with roots tracing back to 1820. Based in the UK port of Southampton, Red Funnel carries 2.3m passengers and over 800,000 vehicles on its ferry route between the UK port of Southampton and East Cowes and 1.1m passengers between Southampton and West Cowes on its Red Jet Hi-Speed service.  In addition to ferry travel, Red Funnel is the only cross-Solent operator to offer ferry inclusive bonded holiday accommodation, attraction tickets, festival and event tickets and activity packages. Sub-brands include ‘Red Jet’ (the Hi-Speed passenger only ferry service serving West Cowes) and two food & beverage brands, ‘Steam Coffee Company’ and ‘ReFuel’.  The Company is a founder member of Visit Isle of Wight Ltd, the Island’s not for profit destination management organisation and Red Funnel sponsors or supports most of the Island’s premier events including the IW Festival, Cowes Week, Rhythm Tree, The Great Wonderfest, Wight Proms, Cowes Classics, and Walk the Wight as well as a range of community and niche interest events. Red Funnel’s Charity of the Year, 2020 is Isle of Wight Independent Lifeboats.

For more information visit: