A HIGH-SPEED ferry service from Weymouth to France to fill the gap left by Condor Ferries is still on track to start next year.

Discussions are continuing behind the scenes between HighSpeedFerries and Weymouth and Portland Borough as well as other parties about the proposed service.

An autumn 2015 start has been ruled out, but it is hoped the ferry will start sailing next April.

A website has been launched by the operator with just a home page to promote the service.

It details how the ferry operation would serve the 'wider West County market' with a short and frequent crossing in just over two hours, the shortest crossing in the Western Channel.

HighSpeedFerries plans to run two or three regular sailings a day in season from Weymouth to Cherbourg.

The Echo revealed earlier this year that talks were underway about a new ferry link to fill the gap left by Condor Ferries, which switched its cross-Channel service to Poole as its large ship couldn't be accommodated at Weymouth. The last Condor service from Weymouth sailed in March.

HighSpeedFerries says its operation will create 90 new jobs.

The borough council has held back on closing its ferry port while discussions take place.

Jonathan Packer of HighspeedFerries said: "We continue to work hard and will make an announcement when the time is right.

"We are in discussions with a lot of people and there's a lot of work going on behind the scenes.

"Our plan is to start next April.

"A website has been launched and there's a bit of information there but it's early days. There's a detailed website behind it which isn't up at this stage."

Chairman of the borough council's management committee Cllr Ian Bruce said: "There's commercial negotiations going on therefore we are restricted in what we can say and can't give any details.

"However I know that officers are pleased that the fast ferry operator is on track. We're hopeful of a successful outcome."

Cllr Bruce added: "I was recently in Cherbourg and saw the facilities there and I believe that a route from Weymouth involving a fast ferry would be extremely attractive. It would be a boost for Britain and France."