FERRY passengers can look forward to hopping across Portsmouth Harbour on a new vessel.
The Gosport Ferry company has announced plans to design and build a new ferry ready to enter service in 2014.
It will be the first new one in nine years and will be of a similar size to the current Spirit of Gosport.
The company asked more than 1,300 passengers for their input on what it should look like and how it should be laid out.
It will have room for up to 300 passengers.
The ferry is likely to replace the company’s oldest vessels, Gosport Queen and Portsmouth Queen.
General manager of the Gosport Ferry Keith Edwards said: ‘People were generally happy with the ferries as they are at the moment so we shouldn’t have to make too many changes.
‘We have got to look to the future and we need to bring the service up to modern standards. We also need to ensure our extremely good reliability rate of 99.9 per cent carries on.
‘We were delighted that more than 1,000 passengers took part in our survey.
‘We want to make sure the ferry is designed to meet the needs of our passengers.
‘Seeking their views at this early stage in our planning is an important element in achieving that.’
Gosport Ferry has signed up a Portsmouth-based marine design company, Houlder Ltd, to design and build the vessel.
When the design is complete, the company will tender out the construction to shipyards.
There are four ferries that cross the harbour between Portsmouth and Gosport.
The newest, The Spirit of Portsmouth, was built in 2005 and also works as a cruise ferry.
The Spirit of Gosport was commissioned in 2001.
And the two oldest, Gosport Queen and Portsmouth Queen, were both built in 1966.
These are expected to be phased out once the new one is brought in.
Mr Edwards added: ‘We might keep one as a back-up vessel and we might be able to keep one as a heritage vessel.
‘But one of the issues we have is it is difficult to get hold of spare engine parts for them.
‘If we have a significant failure of one of the parts then we’re going to be in great difficulty.’
He added: ‘And we are extremely proud of our reliability rate and don’t want that to drop.’