Inaugural Clydelink Kilcreggan to Gourock ferry service

island princess coming in to berth at Kilcreggan

Island Princess came in to Kilcreggan Pier at 12.30 today for her inaugural passage to Gourock. Aboard her were her skipper and crew; Mark Aikman of Clydelink; the Clyde Port pilot Clydelink had asked to have for the starting period of their new operation – and the friskiest ’79 year old’ we’ve ever seen; Stephen Nielston, Rothesay-based Harbour Master General – well what else can you call a man responsible for all of Argyll and Bute Council’s working piers and harbours; and a couple of joy-riding unofficial passengers.

The boat and her crew had spent the morning working up, making approaches to their berths at either end of the destination and getting their routines straightened out.

berthing 2 berthing 3

Yes, much of it was tentative but they were a new crew suffering from the political fallout of the almighty mess SPT and Argyll and Bute Council have made of the contract for this route and they knew they were under the keen eyes of a highly critical and rather hostile audience. We felt for them.

While the new service, replacing Clyde Marine’s Seabus, has created seven new jobs, three council staff at Kilcreggan  pierhead, one full time and two part time, are being made redundant because the new service is handling berthing shipside not shoreside.

With the men who are losing their jobs locally respected and popular – not to mention Bella and Stella, piermaster John Bellshaw’s hardworking meeters and greeters who are also dispossessed – local resentment is understandable. This has been a cheerful and efficient team and they really will be missed.

bella working it out

Bella and Stella didn’t quite know where to put themselves today, clearly feeling that the approach of a boat meant that they were on duty yet sensing somehow that this one wasn’t for them. Bella (above) was dying to get involved, urging the crew on from above.

The standoff between the Kilcreggan community and the new service is largely because the boat and its crew are the visible and manifest evidence not just of change but of chaotic change – yet the primary fault is not theirs.

Any business is entitled to bid as it will for public sector tenders. The decision and the arrangements agreed are in the hands of the tenderers.

Anyone is entitled to take a job that’s on offer and the Island Princess crew today were universally careful about what they were doing, good natured, open faced and philosophical about the markedly uncelebratory circumstances of their first sailings.

They refused to take fares from passengers, saying that they were practising all of their routines and were glad to have them aboard as guinea pigs.

Mark Aikman and Pilot

Mark Aikman (above left, with the Pilot) was also visibly aboard to support his team. The same thing cannot be said of a notably craven no show.

Councillor Duncan Macintyre, Argyll and Bute Council’s Transport Spokesperson and its main nominee to the SPT Board,  was yesterday urging his colleagues representing the Helensburgh and Lomond Ward to turn up for the ferry’s first sailing into Kilcreggan, asking for a good show.

Guess who didn’t bother to be there today? Yes. Indeed. Councillor Duncan Macintyre.

Mark Aikman of Clydelink did nothing but submit a bid that was successful but has become the butt of transferred hostility. He was there.

SPT management have serious questions to answer about their handling of the tender  – and we understand that legal firm Brodies are acting for Clyde Marine in the matter. Yet they were there – joining the ferry at Gourock for its return to Kilcreggan.

If these folk can front up,  why can Councillor Duncan Macintyre not appear to support a service to whose introduction he has been party, not face up to the Kilcreggan pier staff who have lost their jobs and not eyeball Helensburgh residents who have lost their leg of this ferry service altogether? His was a pretty gutless absence.

Some of his colleagues – from all sides of the council, answered his call and were there throughout.

Councillor George Freeman

First to arrive was opposition Councillor George Freeman (above centre), Leader of the Argyll and Bute Independent Councillors Group. He is a vigorous critic of SPT’s and the council administration’s management of this tender; and is also a committed supporter of the pier head staff who are being made redundant.

Then Argyll and Bute’s MP, Alan Reid (below, top), who lives in Dunoon and at Cardross near Helensburgh, arrived with administration Councilor Vivien Dance.

Alan Reid and Kenneth Smith

Kenneth Smith (above, bottom), the SNP candidate for Lomond North in the Helensburgh and Lomond Ward came too. All three taking the first ferry trip over to Gourock and back, as did we.

Kenneth Smith spent time on the crossing talking to the ever efficient, ever approachable and authoritative Harbour Master, Stephen Nielson (below, talking to Councillor Vivien Dance).

Stephen Nielston and Councillor Vivien Dance

We have met Mr Nielson at Oban Harbour, Dunoon Pier and at Loch Striven when the Maersk B-class cargo ships were there on cold lay up. He also looks after all of the council’s other piers and harbours – like Craignure, Port Askaig and Bruichladdich for examples. Always a reassuringly experienced presence, some day his memoirs will make fascinating reading.

Councillor Kellys nephew piper

As Island Princess came in to Kilcreggan for the second time, the pipes skirled across the water from the pierhead. Councillor Danny Kelly, a Kilcreggan resident, had arrived to welcome the boat and had persuaded his talented nephew (above) – who regularly does the honours for the paddlesteamer Waverly – to add to the occasion.

Bella and Stella

Bella and Stella – who is something of a diva – posed for the camera, one on each of John Bellshaw’s feet.

So what did we think of how the first sailings went?

at kilcreggan 2Let’s start with the boat. It managed fine today in unchallenging weather and sea conditions and with few passengers aboard. Its relatively small and spartan cabin area in the bow will clearly not hold the numbers who use this route at busy times. Very many will have to travel in the open – and often the wet, on the large open after deck. If many crowd into the forecabin, as they will in wet and windy conditions, it looks to us as if the boat will bury its nose a bit. It appears to have that tendency as it is.

No one can, now or later, use the Island Princess upper deck on passage. In contrast, the Dunoon to Gourock passenger ferry’s Argyll Flyer has a glorious top deck.

What is it with this attractively scenic route that serially condemns passengers hungry for the sights to be confined to water level or inside the passenger cabin where views are, of course, restricted? Seabus was just as unable and caused just as many mournful complaints – and she was commissioned for the route.

There was a large crew on board today and, in these early days, the back up is clearly worth while. Clyde Marine, with experience behind them ran Seabus with a skipper and one crewman, using the Kilcreggan pier staff for rope handling in berthing.

Island Princess is unlikely to operate for long with the crew numbers she had on board today. That would make no financial sense set against the £20k it is saving in not using the pier staff at Kilcreggan.

Some routines set up for today – and some of the equipment – we would have thought are also likely to change as the service, the boat and the crew bed in.

Berthing warps at Kilcreggan

Today there was a warp on a loose noose left in position over a bollard on Kilcreggan Pier, swinging over to the low water landing stage. Crew were catching this with a boathook to draw down the rest of the warp and secure the boat for disembarking and embarking. The same set up and routine was in place at the Gourock end.

In a choppy sea this would be a less certain manoevre; and the noose is very vulnerable to passing children with an eye for mischief. who could easily lift it clear of the bollard and drop iot down. What would the crew do on an approach to Kilcreggan if they found no warp to hook and they had no shore staff to take one thrown from the boat?

gangway 2

Then there is the gangway being used at the moment. This seems too narrow to operate safely in a swell where a small child or a less stable adult could easily pitch through or over the loose warps threaded through the stanchions at either side. These also allow no secure support for passengers to grab, as opposed to the steel tubed fixed side rails on the Seabus gangway (below).

Seabus gangway at Kilcreggan

Today the gangway was able to run more or less horizontally, but at different states of the tide it may have to be set at a sharp enough angle, supporting a solid line of passengers with luggage. We are not confident that this gangway is strong enough not to buckle in the middle under this sort of pressure. (As a comparison, the Seabus gangway is shown above coming down on to Kilcreggan Pier on a high tide.)

It will also be very difficult to handle when operated at an angle as it has no rollers to run it out and in. And when it is stowed aboard, it simply lies pretty much across the full width of the upper deck, isolating the wheelhouse. This cannot be safe.

gangway gourock 2

When we were reviewing our photographs for this article, we realised that the gangway, as it was operated at Gourock today, seemed barely to connect with the shore facility (above). In a swell, rolling the boat to and fro at her berth, it would have taken little to drop the gangway here. The Seabus gangway, in the same position (below), covered a substantial area of the shoreside platform.

Seabus gangway at Gourock

All of these things will of course change as this service beds in. Everyone is aware that the Island Primcess only got her MCA operating licence with minutes to spare before close of business on Friday afternoon. Of course, much of today’s routines were improvisational to a degree – and this is an issue to be addressed squarely to SPT and to Argyll and Bute Council whose mismanagement has produced this situation.

Nothing in these remarks should be taken to refer to the new contractor but to the risible management capability shown here by these two bodies.

Argyll and Bute Council’s Health and Safety management happily pronounced themselves satisfied with the arrangements proposed. They cannot knowledgeably set foot on boats very often.

It would be instructive to see them stagger ashore at Kilcreggan or Gourock on this gangway in the sort of chop or swell experienced often enough in the Clyde – and to see how they managed when they grabbed for this ‘rail’ in a rocky moment.

Treats at both destinations

Truffling around as we do, there is some useful information we can pass on to those using this lovely route.

Restaurant 21 Gourock

At Gourock, Cafe Continental – up the main road across from the rail station where the ferry comes in, not only has good coffee, food and drinks but has a large observation eating area at the back (above), overlooking the Clyde waterway on three sides.

Cafe at Kilcreggan

At Kilcreggan, across the road and to the right from the entrance to the pier, there is ‘cafe at Kilcreggan’ (above) – a bright, cool place. easy to be in, with great coffee and food. They do take away so, as we were off to explore, we carried off a coffee and a memorable slice of cherry tart. We’ll be back.

Kilcreggan Hotel

Up the hill a bit to the left (north) of the entrance to the pier is the Kilcreggan Hotel (above) with regular returnees who come over simply to meet and lunch there.

Knockderry Country House Hotel Kilcreggan

In Cove, a little to the north of Kilcreggan on this Rosneath peninsula is the Knockderry Country House Hotel (above), an instantly attractive building with interior work by the renowned Glasgow architect William Lieper, with memorable rooms and with what reads like – and is five starred – fabulous food.

Kayaker at Kilcreggan

The Rosneath peninsula is, like so much of Argyll and the Isles, a world apart – timeless, gentle, waterbound, with rolling landscapes, shingle beaches and intriguing views over the Clyde, across Loch Long and to Ardentinny in east Cowal; and on the east side it has the panorama of the Queen’s Harbour of the Gare Loch and the enormous UK submarine base at Faslane. These are complex and interesting neighbourly relationships.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • LinkedIn
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Ma.gnolia
  • NewsVine
  • StumbleUpon
  • SphereIt
  • Reddit
  • Slashdot
  • Print

29 Responses to Inaugural Clydelink Kilcreggan to Gourock ferry service

  1. This was interesting reading indeed and the photos to back it up. I just wonder if passenger and crew safety will be paramount transferring from boat to shore or visa versa , that very narrow gangway was a disgrace , it should be made of a strong frame and safety netting and also broad enough for cycles , prams and buggies with out these items being lifted overhead. The sea-state is worth a mention with heavy swells and waves crashing against the piers , the ‘grab-and-hope’ tie ups are not for the faint hearted and can be easily missed and dropping the boathook to handle the ropes may cause accidents. The line hanging over the Kilcreggan Pier must be made secure and not just hanging over the wooden stantion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Unfortunately, no mention in the article, but has the opportunity been taken by the current Argyll and Bute Council administration to ensure that this new ferry, unlike the last one, is accessible to wheelchair users and other people with mobility difficulties? No it hasn’t!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Apologies. We will pursue this.
      We were planning to deal with it as a separate issue because we did not realise that there had been disabled access to Seabus.
      How did this work?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • The disability access issue has always been a problem. If my recollection is correct (and Andrew knows a lot more about this than I do so please correct me if I am mistaken) the Seabus was brought on to the route because, as a ferry, it met with the necessary disability access requirements, whereas the Kenilworth didn’t.

        However the problem is that the pier doesn’t provide wheelchair access which sort of defeats the purpose.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • We asked Clydelibk about this issue this morning and have had this prompt response from Mark Aikman:

        ‘The issue that exists is that the shoreside facilities at both Gourock and Kilcreggan do not permit easy access by less able persons, the same issue has existed at both locations for over 30 years.

        ‘I believe that a working group has tasked consultants to assess the viability of new pontoons at both Gourock and Kilcreggan (and also at other Clyde locations).

        ‘I will forward you an update as soon as we are aware of progress.

        ‘The Seabus and the Island Princess both have suitable access for the less able on the main deck, however the shoreside infrastructure needs to be in place to permit its use (ie pontoons).

        ‘We are bedding in the service over the next few weeks, then will engage with our commuter base and other parties with a view to implementing enhanced services for new and existing commuters.

        ‘We will keep you posted!’

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Wheelchair access to ferry/cruise boats has always been a bit of a no-hoper to be honest. The relatively new MV Seabus had a top deck for access but passengers were not allowed to stay there ‘in transit’ and had to go down below…and that was able-bodied people. The cost of designing a purpose-built disabled access boat and pier access ramps for wheelchairs is much prohibited in today’s financial cutbacks. If someone was sitting on a wheelchair or someone was pushing a wheelchair and the sea-states were very poor with a heavy swell was moving the boat up and down then passenger safety would be put in danger embarking and disembarking….it would be awfully difficult to resolve the two.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • It does seem to be resolved elsewhere – eg Brian Souter’s ferries in the Auckland area, New Zealand, where all the ferries and most of the landings are apparently wheelchair accessible

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. We have noticed in looking for Island Princess this morning that she either does not have an AIS transponder or does not have it switched on.
    It is important for commercial services operating in busy waters like the Clyde that other boats can ‘see’ that they are out there; where and what they are; and have the details of their speed and direction.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Searching marinetraffic this morning to see if the ‘new’ 16 year old ‘ferry’ was using her ais transponders and…NO…was the answer. If she doesn’t have a transponder , I’m really surprised MCA Greenock allows a passenger vessel out with out one. Did she have one onboard whilst she was plying the waters of the very busy Solent? She could easily be run over by the much bigger ships that use the channel down at the Tail o’ the Bank.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. How many of the previous vessels had AIS fitted then? Under current legislation she is not required to have one, being under 200gt. I would agree however that to have one would be a major safety asset. Competition on the Clyde is a good thing. It really makes me laugh when I read comments about the age of Island Princess. Compare that to the vessels previously on the route (excluding the ugly Seabus). Remember the Kenilworth incident when a water inlet fitting detached from the hull due to corrosion?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Just a point of information – Seabus did have and use AIS.

      Is it quite correct that AIS is not obligatory for a boat of this size but it is a safety feature that will probably be part of its coming fine tuning for this route in these waters.

      We are aware that the latest Kintyre Express fast passenger ferry from Campbeltown to Ballycastle – which carries 12 – has AIS and that the company are looking at retro-fitting it on KEII, last year’s new boat out of the RedBay yard.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • All of these boats carry AIS because they are categorized as workboats as well as being passenger boats. It’s not a safety issue, but a requirement, which for some strange reason is known only to the MCGA. Clyde Marine, very wisely, choose to place their fleet into that category as it then allows them the freedom to sail just about anywhere around the coast just as the Seabus has done, to Oban and points north. If it was classed just as a passenger boat then such a voayge would have been accompanied by a mountain of paperwork. As it was, it just left quietly and got on with it.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. The reason that the Island Princess does not show up on the Shipais or the Marine Traffic websites is that she is not required to have an AIS set on board, as she is below the 300 ton limit.

    There are several other passenger vessels operating in the Clyde that are not so equipped, and many naval (and support) vessels choose not to use it either.

    AIS’ like radar, is only an aid to navigation and is no substitute for keeping a good look-out.

    Reference the comment about the gangway “barely connecting” with the shore, presumably it was pushed ashore far enough to be safe. As your photos show, there was still plenty of it aboard the boat so it could well have been placed further onto the pier had the need been there.

    Nice to see Mr Reid made the effort to be aboard . Will he be as critical of the Island Princess as he was of the Ali Cat when it started on the Dunoon run?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. A few points from me after my trip on Sunday that either elaborate on above points, or not been covered yet:

    The gangway presents a huge challenge when trying to manoevre a cycle. Those present on Sunday will have seen me struggling a bit!!

    The stairway down to the lower deck is the steepest but also shallowest steps I’ve ever seen on a commuter boat. Jupiter was pretty bad, but Island Princess is awful. They are an accident waiting to happen.

    Thermostatically controlled heating – I could only see two tiny air vents, and only one was working. No controls were obvious in the ‘bar’ area, maybe controlled from the wheelhouse?

    Comfort – did anyone notice how the entrance to the saloon was held by a fabric ‘click lock’ like a kids seat? Never mind the wooden benches to sit on.

    Final point – timings. Okay it was the first few runs, but Island Princess really struggled to keep good times, running late on both trips I was on in calm weather. To keep speed, the engines were taking a pounding – long term I can’t see them being reliable. It’s like taking a 1.0litre small car across the contintent – good chance it could make it, but the engine will be getting constantly stressed making it much more liable to go bang.

    As said in the article, fair play to Clydelink, I’m sure they are committed to the route, but cannot say the same for SPT. They should be ashamed at the way this whole process has been handled, not least for blatantly ignoring the public they serve.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • The stairway down to the lower deck is the steepest but also shallowest steps I’ve ever seen on a commuter boat. Jupiter was pretty bad, but Island Princess is awful. They are an accident waiting to happen.

      No kidding! One of my kids couldn’t even climb up or down on his own because the ‘steps’ are more like a ladder. I’m 7 months pregnant now and certain I couldn’t get up or down safely and I know I’d be stuck standing on the top deck, braving the elements with my new baby, because how the heck can I get to the lower deck with a baby, even in a carrier? :p

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Find yourself a good community lawyer and get stuck into SPTE for gross neglect of their responsibilities as the authority in charge of this public transport service.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. In response to the comments seeking further information: the Seabus, in service until the end of last week, was completely wheelchair inaccessible. Its layout also made access to its lower deck down a very steep and narrow flight of steps seriously difficult for anyone with poor mobility.

    The Strathclyde Partnership Transport’s (SPT) original Q&A, produced in response to a range of issues raised recently, made a welcome reference at several points to a “socially-necessary service” between Gourock and Kilcreggan, and the responsibilities of the SPT in this regard. Attention was also paid in the Q&A to access issues, including the tender requirement for an accessible vessel and that the new vessel would provide:

    • Easier access for the visually impaired and infirm;
    • A non-slip gangway, approximately 50% wider than existing gangway;
    • The gangway at a shallower angle, permitting easier access for all.

    The revised Q&A paper stated that the new vessel will offer “a wider, non-slip gangway permitting pushchairs and bicycles to be pushed on and off” and that “with a reduced upper deck height, boarding and disembarkation will be carried out with the gangway at a shallower angle, permitting easier access for all.”

    However, in relation to the Island Princess, now in service, the term “all” does not appear to include wheelchair users such as myself. There may also be continuing issues about people with poor mobility accessing the lower deck down a steep flight of steps.

    There is no statutory duty in the matter of disability equality and discrimination in ferry services. However, the SPT contract specification for the new ferry included a requirement to provide “an accessible vessel” SPT has allowed the operator to avoid the specification set down in its tender pack, and reduced the requirement to arrangements that were “reasonably practical.” It would be helpful to see the SPT policies and procurement procedures which allowed the tender requirement not to be met.

    So, whilst there are issues about access from their piers at Kilcreggan and Gourock, there are also access questions concerning boarding and disembarking from the new ferry, which still require an answer. We can spend 1.2 billion on each of the new Astute class submarines. We are planning to spend £1.86bn every year for the next 50 years on the Trident nuclear missile programme. But we still seem unable to provide a ferry service between Kilcreggan and Gourock, which is accessible to people with mobility difficulties, including wheelchair users.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • I’m sorry , but the two subjects are simly not connected. To relate the costings of a domestic ferry service to the defence of the realm beggers belief. The anti-nuclear weapons stance you have is not worth the price of the ferry ticket.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. The SPT have not enhanced their reputation with this one.
    There is something quite absurd in cutting and then pruning some more, a service that they painfully failed to promote or nurture. It’s perverse to see an increase in pleasure boating on the Clyde but see commercial ferry destinations’ decrease on the upper estuary. One of the joys in life (on a good day) is ferry travel. Commuters will not use ferries if it become the ride to hell. Is it the case that SPT are at odds with Scotland’s National Transport Strategy which sets out for the first time a long term vision for transport, together with objectives, priorities and plans?
    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2006/12/04104414/0
    The Strategy set five high level objectives for transport in Scotland’s Transport Future. They are to:
    Promote economic growth by building, enhancing managing and maintaining transport services, infrastructure and networks to maximise their efficiency;
    Promote social inclusion by connecting remote and disadvantaged communities and increasing the accessibility of the transport network;
    Protect our environment and improve health by building and investing in public transport and other types of efficient and sustainable transport which minimise emissions and consumption of resources and energy;
    Improve safety of journeys by reducing accidents and enhancing the personal safety of pedestrians, drivers, passengers and staff; and
    Improve integration by making journey planning and ticketing easier and working to ensure smooth connection between different forms of transport.
    There are 3 key strategic outcomes that the National Strategy says it must focus on to achieve this vision. They are to:
    Improve journey times and connections, to tackle congestion and the lack of integration and connections in transport which impact on our high level objectives for economic growth, social inclusion, integration and safety;
    Reduce emissions, to tackle the issues of climate change, air quality and health improvement which impact on our high level objective for protecting the environment and improving health; and
    Improve quality, accessibility and affordability, to give people a choice of public transport, where availability means better quality transport services and value for money or an alternative to the car.
    These strategic outcomes will have wider benefits and will contribute to the delivery of a number of other key priorities including health improvement, social inclusion and regeneration. Tackling congestion, integrating services and infrastructure, improving connections and accessibility will all encourage individuals to make different choices about their preferred method of travel and enable individuals to become more economically active. As well as reducing emissions, policies to increase active travel and better integrate transport with services will contribute to increased physical activity and improved health.
    So what part of the document did the SPT skip. By any stretch what they have planned and delivered is wide of this mark – again. The Clyde and it’s coasts are fabulous assets, if you tell people they will come and enjoy. SPT website for the ferry http://www.spt.co.uk/ferry/about.php

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • And when you say: ‘The Clyde and it’s coasts are fabulous assets…’ the Svitzer Marine tug Milford’s favourite job is escorting tankers up to Finnart on Loch Long – because it’s such a beautiful and secret run. They describe it as flord-like, green, tranquil – and although they do that job regularly, it remains a pleasure.

      These are wonderful resources specific to this place and simply not brought to bear – which is why we were and remain angry that the Helensburgh leg of this route was cut by SPT (and with Argyll and Bute Council’s consent) without any consultation with Helensburgh and with no marketing of any description.

      Yes, this part of the former service was underused – but it was never sold.

      It is indefensibly wasteful to pay for and run public services and to cripple their
      potential success by not bothering to consider the range of roles they might fulfil and to market them in these roles.

      It is in no one’s interests that the Clydelink service fails. It must succeed. Marlk Aikman of Clydelink has said today that when they have bedded in the service, they will be consulting their customer base.

      This is a relationship mutually worth developing. A marriage of user interest in developing services and an entrepreneurial interest in providing them could together get the right perspectives in the driving seat; and open up routes on the Clyde that could change the way we move around and map the water-bound world we live in here.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • Always interested when someone clicks on the “dislike” button – Then doesn’t leave a comment. I try always to back my comments up with research and where appropriate will include sites or references. Not interested in flaming, but curious all the same.
      The Minutes of the SPT show that the ferry is run for the purposes of transporting its “core users” – what they consider the Faslane workers to be. If it wasn’t for this core group, I would suggest that the SPT may perhaps have rid themselves of another ferry. http://www.spt.co.uk/documents/op200112_minute.pdf
      http://www.spt.co.uk/documents/op200112_agenda9.pdf
      http://www.spt.co.uk/wmslib/Documents_RTS/catalyst_for_change.pdf

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. Reminisces.
    It’s somewhat amusing to read all the comments about passenger comfort and wheel chair access, etc., not that I don’t sympathise with these writers. What I actually find amusing is thinking back to the ‘good old days’ when Ritchie Brothers ran a reliable and safe service from Gourock to Kilcreggan every day for many, many years. Back then, there was no such thing as passenger comfort.
    The Lady Jane Ritchie, for example, had no protection from the elements except a canvas cover for those for’ard of the wheelhouse. If you were in the mid or stern section, there was nothing and on a busy summer’s day, it was standing room only. The Port Star had some covered accommodation if you were lucky to be near the front of the queue. As for wheelchair access, yes they had it – Rab Ritchie and another well-built deckhand would lift the wheelchair and passenger onto the ferry and lift them off again at the other end. This sometimes happened also with the large prams in those days, if they were not running with a full passenger complement.
    AIS? Radar? They didn’t even have VHF radio or fog horns but I believe they may had had a megaphone. Yet, to my knowledge, they never lost a single passenger or had an injury, despite sailing sometimes in appalling weather conditions. However, they were responsible for saving some lives and going to the assistance of other vessels, over the years.
    I had the privilege and pleasure of making this trip many, many times, usually in the summer and envied a couple of schoolmates who lived in Kilcreggan and traveled this way on a daily basis. When the journey back to Gourock was occasionally stormier than the outward trip, we youngsters took great delight in trying to spot the first passengers who were feeling queasy and would sometimes pretend to ‘boke o’er the side to get them started’. Happy Days!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    • The image of kids making boking sounds over the side and keeping an eye to the rear to see what effect it was having on queasy adults is hilariously authentic.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. One point I would like to make, 3 jobs are being lost, you balance that with 7 have been created but I would like to point out that these jobs have not been created locally or given to anyone on the Rosneath Peninsula. Popularity is not the only reason for public disgust at the redundancies. It is a simple exercise in cutting Clydelink’s costs and nothing more. It can’t be dressed up as anything else

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • ‘..3 jobs lost…7 created..’ Are you sure? The previous operator has lost both the surviving service and the Helensburgh link, so – with the loss of the Kilcreggan shore staff how can there be a net gain of 4 jobs?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Robert I was quoting from the article!! I do not see this a gain in the creation of jobs, just a threat to existing jobs. Hopefully Clyde Marine will not need to lay off any of their personnel because of this. If my meaning was unclear then I apologise but as I said these job losses can’t be dressed up as anything but cutting Clyde link’s costs

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • SPT were determined to drive costs down and by rejecting the first submission and re-advertising the route indicated to all their preference. Therefore, the normal way to compete under these circumstances is to take as much cost out in your tender. You look to “cheese pairing”. The quickest way to drop costs is by a head count, followed by taking out every “whistle and bell” you can find. Whether or not the new ferry guys have got their figures right will come out over the next few years – you can’t blame them for the revised SPT tender it is as it is.
      SPT on the other hand have worked from the premise that simply not enough people used the route. If it wasn’t for the Faslane core users I suspect they would have done away with it all together. I think this breeches the Scottish Transport Strategy policy which SPT follow and insignificant weighting was (is) given to other inclusive factors other than simply cost. I also think that the checks and balances between the executive and our representatives have failed – the Argyll guy in particular should be named and shamed – Councillor Duncan Macintyre, Argyll and Bute Council’s Transport Spokesperson. There are far greater benefits in having integrated transport systems including ferries and the SPT and Argyll and Bute are failing to promote this. I occasionally did Dunoon to Dumbarton by Ferries and Train, because I liked doing it and it was quirky. Not now of course it has to be all the way by car over the Erskine bridge or Rest and be thankful. Extra tourists coming to Glasgow in 2014, it would have been nice to show them the quirky bits of joined up Argyll. Ever-ones lost – SPT’s gain?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Its so sad that more cuts are affecting so many. I won’t be taking to the Clyde on the “new” boat, it looks inadequate. As a visitor to the area from the city I will have to find other ferries and places to visit, and quick.
        The UK is the 5/6th richest nation in the world – oh but- we’ve swallowed the lie about being a poor nation, how convienent for the super rich elites (and cronies) who are carving everything up between them, because we’re allowing them. Armbands (and all the rest) will be the result of next few rounds (programme) of cutbacks.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


All the latest comments (including yours) straight to your mailbox, everyday! Click here to subscribe.