A NEW hovercraft service linking Wirral and North Wales could soon be offering visitors to this year’s Open Golf Championship the chance to arrive at Hoylake in style.
Merseyside company Hoverlink (NW) Ltd hopes to get the service off the ground by July and believes re-launching the service – which was last seen in the 1960s – could take 200,000 visitors to North Wales each year.
The brand new 85-seater hovercraft could make up to 24 trips into North Wales each day from early 2015, with trial runs planned to coincide with the Open to gauge opinion about the firm’s plans.
Wirral-born company founder Simon Clitheroe told the Globe the hovercraft will also be used for the rest of the summer, offering customers the chance to try out a service from Llandudno, New Brighton, Liverpool, Southport and Blackpool.
But Mr Clitheroe said this all depends on finding a £50,000 minimum investment.
“We are delighted to have this opportunity to prove the demand for the return of a hovercraft service to North Wales,” said Mr Clitheroe.
“This 32 seated hovercraft will be used to trial each of the locations identified along the coast and provide valuable information from customers for the larger regular service in 2015.”
Hoverlink is in talks with both Wirral Council and Welsh MP Chris Ruane to start the trial during the Open Golf Championship, with the hope of facilitating a fast service between Rhyl and Hoylake.
Mr Clitheroe added: “By having this service available passengers will be transported along the North Wales coastline across the Dee to a specific landing point directly next to the Royal Liverpool Golf Club."
Hoverlink is currently in the investment stage of the project and has a “small window of opportunity” to raise the funds for the trial service.
A number of investment evenings are planned in the coming weeks aimed at any potential investors or groups.
Mr Clitheroe added: “We want this to be community-led, rather than us just saying here you go, this is where you are going, I would like to see what people want to do and where they want to go.
“It is something that is needed in the area. We do suffer in the north west with not having quick transporation.
“Even on a train you have got to change at various locations – all we are trying to do is bypass that and almost cut down that time by half.”
The world’s first commercial passenger hovercraft service ran briefly from Rhyl to Moreton beach in 1962, but ended when a storm hit the hovercraft while it was moored, damaging its lifting engines.
The new enterprise – which Mr Clitheroe said will use modern day craft which are more efficient and safe than those used in the 60s – will cost around £1m to set up and could create 100 permanent jobs.
A single passenger fare from Wirral to North Wales is expected to cost around £15.