Cabinet Secretary, Alex Neil, whose brief includes transport, was in Dunoon today for a series of three meetings, all centred on the issue of the state’s passenger ferry service between the town and the Gourock railhead in Inverclyde.
Argyll Ferries was present at two of these meetings and an Argyll Ferries spokesman said tonight:
‘We were pleased to be included in today’s meetings and contribute to the discussions about the ferry service.
‘We were also pleased that the significant improvement to technical reliability achieved following the refits was recognised by the Minister and those present.
‘We remain committed to improving the service further, in particular to working with partners to develop the berthing and passenger facilities at both Gourock and Dunoon. ‘
Local rumours from the meetings, which did not include the press, have been indicating that the possible replacement of the MV Ali Cat – the catamaran hulled boat providing part of the two-boat service on the Gourock-Dunoon route. Ali Cat is notably skittish in stronger winds. Argyll Ferries did not wish to comment on this.
For Argyll has said from the outset and maintains its posiiton, that the fast passenger shuttle service between Dunoon and the Gourock railhead – wioth 60 crossings a day – is the correct service to complement Western Ferries short vehicle and passenger shuttle between the outskirts of the two towns. Alongside this, we have maintained that the MV Ali Cat should be replaced and that the boats require the pontoon berthings at either end for which they were designed.
Stern berthing at both linkspans is a cumbersome business. Being beyond the design spec of the boats., the manoeuvres required to align stern and linkspan are so tortuous that the very sight of then undermines public confidence.
And good, attractive shoreside facilities are imperative if this service is to be part of a sustained marketing campaign, once the town gets itself into the shape required to support such potential interest.