Saturday, 14 April 2018

TT 2018 via Liverpool

Hi, I’m Sean Robertson, Deputy Sector Marshal at Mountain Box (Sector 9) on the TT course, and a volunteer Cruise Ambassador at Liverpool Cruise Terminal.
Every year we welcome thousands of bikers through Liverpool on their way to the greatest road races in the world and I thought it would be good idea to jot down a few notes about Liverpool and the embarkation process to help your journey to the Isle of Man go smoothly and safely.
I’ve written this as a blog, so if you spot any errors, or you’re able to add to any of the points please let me know and I’ll keep this post updated.
The Liverpool terminal is situated at the Pier Head, next to the Royal Liver Building and the Cruise Terminal.  Address is St Nicholas Place, L3 1DL
From M62, M57, M58 follow signs for “Waterfront” not for the docks.  As you approach the tall waterfront buildings the Royal Liver Building is recognisable by the 8m high Liver Birds on top of the towers, head for this building.  The slip road into check-in is between the Liver Building and the Crown Plaza Hotel.
From the M53, go through the Wallasey Tunnel, when leaving the tunnel keep right and follow for the Waterfront - be aware the tunnel exit is a favourite place for the police to do speed checks so keep it to 30.
If coming up the A41 through Cheshire head for the Birkenhead tunnel. Keep in the left hand lane as you enter the tunnel, the tunnel is 2 miles long, but towards the end there is a left turn, when you emerge from the tunnel you’ll be directly opposite the Liver Building.  If you miss the left turn in the tunnel, don’t worry, simply continue to the end and then turn immediately left, this will take you down Dale Street towards the Waterfront.
Tunnel tolls - Bikes are free, there is a  free m/c lane on the left side of the row of toll booths (also on the right side of the Birkenhead Tunnel booths - towards Liverpool only). Cars are £1.80 and you pay in cash at the booths (Wirral side only - both directions) but they are rolling out contactless payment, for now use the “manned booths” to pay by card.
If you’re coming from the M56 and over the Runcorn Bridge, the old bridge is closed until later in the year, the new bridge is open, but is a toll bridge, it is free for motorbikes but if you’re in a car or van you need to pay (£2 for cars), there are no toll booths you need to log onto “Merseyflow” and pay, you have until midnight the day after you cross the bridge, but you can log on and pay in advance and the toll will be taken when you cross.
If you’re coming in on the M62 the speed limit reduces to 50 about a mile from the end (with a very profitable speed camera).
If you’re using the A41 and heading for the Birkenhead Tunnel note the Rock Ferry Bypass now has average speed cameras operating (50 mph)
As with any large city, Liverpool has its share of crime, although statistically, and despite the stereotype, it has one of the lowest levels of vehicle crime of any large UK city.  However if yours is the bike that gets stolen statistics are meaningless. Opportunistic and organised thieves will always help themselves to easy pickings and thousands of bikers who don’t know the area are an all too easy target. Never leave your bike or belongings unattended.
If you need to head off for food or the shops and cannot leave someone looking after your bike put it into one of the nearby manned car parks.  A few pounds is a small price to pay for peace of mind.
These three are open and staffed 24/7.
Liverpool Waters - Princes Dock - along from the Crown Plaza Hotel.
Q Park - Liverpool One - enter/exit via The Strand
Capital Building - enter/exit via Rumford Place behind the Mercure Atlantic Tower Hotel.
The passenger terminal is on the floating stage, and marshalling area for bikes/cars has no facilities apart from the check in booth although a fast food van is situated here during TT Fortnight. Merseyside Police often set up shop there too checking datatags for stolen bikes
Foot Passengers
You should head for the grey bridge linking the car check-in area to the floating stage, there is a pedestrian walkway on the left side of the bridge which takes you to the passenger terminal and check in.
Check In (bikes and cars)
Once through the pair of check in booths you’ll be directed round to the holding area, then down the grey bridge onto the floating stage - halfway down the bridge to the stage your boarding pass will be collected so keep it handy - Once on the stage you’ll be parked up in rows to wait your turn to board the ship. Bikes are sorted into “skinny” and “fat”, it’s not a comment on your waist, just whether you’ve got panniers fitted or not. Bikes normally go on first, then foot passengers, with cars put on last.  If you’re on a bike and put onto the mezzanine deck, you’ll be first on but last off as the cars have to be moved from the bow before you can move.
In the passenger terminal on the floating stage, or in the hotels over the road - Crown Plaza or Mercure Atlantic Tower. Toilets also in the Museum of Liverpool.  
McDonalds* and KFC* are on the Strand and are 24/7, but if you are here during the day, consider heading to the Baltic Triangle area.  
Thursday to Sunday I recommend the Baltic Market at Cains Brewery on Stanhope Street.
A good place during the day is Brasco Lounge near to Liverpool Museum on the waterfront, just a few minutes’ walk from the terminal. If you want something more substantial head to Liverpool One or Castle Street.
* warning - a couple of bikes were stolen from McDonalds last year - don’t leave your bike unattended here!
Nearest Services and Facilities
Police - St Anne Street L3 3HJ or Admiral Street L8 8JN - Mon to Sat 8am to 10pm, Sun 8am to 5pm
Hospital - A&E - Royal Liverpool, Prescot Street, L7 8XP
Chemist - Boots, Church Street, L1 1DA Mon to Fri 8:30am to 8pm, Sat 8:30am to 7pm, Sun 11am to 5pm
Tesco - Strand L2 0PP - Daily 6am to 11pm
Tesco - Old Hall Street L3 9RQ - Daily 6am to 11pm (Sainsburys opposite)
Cashpoints - at the above supermarkets or on Castle Street opposite the Town Hall
Hotels - many in the city centre, the nearest are:
Crown Plaza (opposite the terminal)
Mercure Atlantic Tower
Ibis (opposite Albert Dock)
Jury’s Inn (Kings Dock)
Shops - the open air Liverpool One Shopping area with 170+ shops is opposite the Albert Dock and is open 24/7. The shops themselves are open Mon to Fri 9:30am to 8pm; Sat 9am to 7pm; Sun 11am to 5pm
Nearest petrol stations are:
Costco - Cardholders only - Waterloo Road L3 7HY - Store hours
BP - Great Howard Street  L3 7AT - 7am to 10pm
BP - Sefton Street L8 6UD - 7am to 10pm
Shell - Scotland Road L5 5AQ - 24 hours
Shell - Derby Road L20 1AD - 24 hours
Shell - Edge Lane L7 9LD - 24 hours
Cruise Terminal
The cruise terminal is next to the Isle of Man terminal, and the ships berth on the same floating stage.  Take care when cruise ships are in port, passengers are mostly American or continental European, who won’t be used to hundreds of bikes going past, and on, in their minds, the wrong side of the road.  The larger ships can carry over 3,000 passengers and we can have up to 40 coaches heading to the terminal from shore excursions, plus hundreds of passengers walking back into the terminal especially in the late afternoon when our busy time is between 3pm and 6pm.
During TT 2018, the following ships are scheduled:
Fri 1 June Saga Sapphire
Sun 3 June Black Watch
Mon 4 June Artania
Wed 6 June Seven Seas Voyager
Sun 10 June Royal Princess
Mon 11 June Black Watch
Tue 12 June Celebrity Eclipse
Note, during cruise ship operations the section of Princes Parade adjacent to the cruise terminal is closed to traffic and pedestrians, but there is a road around the back of the terminal.  
Tall Ships Regatta
The 2018 Tall Ships Regatta starts in Liverpool over the late May Bank Holiday, ships will be berthed at the cruise terminal and in Albert and Canning Docks and open to the public from Friday 25th to Sunday 27th May and the Parade of Sail takes place on the River Mersey on Monday 28th May. The whole weekend will be extremely busy, the last time the Regatta was held in Liverpool ten years ago it attracted over ONE MILLION visitors and spectators over the weekend!  So give yourself plenty of time to get to the terminal and be aware of crowds of people wandering around the waterfront.
Going Home
When disembarking from Manannan on the way home (Boo!), you’ll leave the stage via the shorter of the bridges, this can be VERY steep at low tide (1 in 4), so take care.  When you get to the top and into St Nicholas Place lots of bikes will pull over to group together, so it can get very congested here, especially with taxis and cruise ship traffic, if you are going to wait to group up, try riding around the back of the cruise terminal where there is much more space on Princes Parade.
I hope the information above has been useful.  If you spot anything that needs correcting, amending or adding to, please leave a comment of tweet me @seanlxiv and I’ll try to keep this updated all the way through the TT and Manx Grand Prix.
Ride safely. Look after yourself, your bike and belongings.
Have a great TT.

23/04 clarification on position of free m/c lane at tunnels
27/05 removed Marathon info as event has passed

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