Comment posted Possible weather disruption to Gourock ferry services 14th and 15th June by ferryman.
It is June now and Argyll Ferries still cannot cope with the weather!
You posted your message on 14/June. This morning 15/June the electronic notice board was saying “sailing to timetable”. In fact all the Argyll Flyer sailings were off. Text messages indicate they are likely to remain off until 16:00.
In the meantime Western who have vessels adequate for the route are operating as normal.
How can we have a commuter route where 50% of sailings are cancelled in what is perfectly normal weather. Imagine if 50% of trains cancelled in this way.
Why is the Argyll Flyer unable to berth in Gourock at the linkspan she contracted to use?
Both the vessels on this toute are totally unsuited for providing a reliable commuter service and Transport Scotland should be shot for not including relief vessels in the contract.
ferryman also commented
- I thought there might be more comment on this but guess what when I looked the topic had disappeared from the most commented list.
This seems strange since it is being commented on frequently and must be amongst the top three.
Surely Newsroom (aka soapbox) is not censoring the blog?
I know the newsroom (aka soapbox) supported the introduction of a passenger only service but surely they would not suppress a post just because it referenced the actual contract? That must just be coincidence.
- The current method of berthing is time consuming and expensive of fuel.
If you there was a pontoon could you come straight alongside which would be both faster and more economical in fuel.
If you do not think cost cutting and economy is behind the present arrangement then why is it that the Ali Cat, which is the worst but cheapest vessel for the route, bears the brunt of the timetable. She burns less fuel than Argyll Flyer.
Sorry but how do you are you connecting the gangway with fuel? The blind Lady seemed to be a regular ferry user, though I have never met her.
Her problem was with the current arrangements, she did not mention the previous arrangement to Alex Salmond. Personally I have had no issue with either the gangways on the streakers or the current service. Though the gangway arrangement on the Ali Cat did result previously in questions being raised in the House of Commons when people said they had nearly been killed using them.
- Maybe Alex Salmond will do it this time.
One thing is for sure these bathtubs are going to fail continuously, there is nothing politicians can do about the weather, and they are not coping even in the summer. The issue is going to run for another five years, right through the referendum unless, unless he gets it sorted.
- The contract is available here;
“A sailing which either does not commence or does not complete in accordance with the Timetable as a direct consequence of a Relief Event shall be deemed to have been completed for the purpose of the Performance Measure for Reliability.”.
“Relief Event means:
the cancellation of any sailing or the late arrival of any sailing if the cause of the cancellation or lateness is attributable to adverse weather, tidal conditions or any other safety factor (but not the non-attendance of suitably qualified and experienced staff) outwith the Operator’s reasonable control which would in the Master’s opinion have made the sailing or arrival in accordance with the Timetable unsafe or impractical and where such cancellation or lateness (or the effects thereof) could not have been avoided or mitigated by the exercise of due diligence by the Operator;”
The clincher in terms of Transport Scotland’s incompetence is that nowhere in the contract does it state what kind of weather the ferries should be able to run in and nowhere in the contract does is specify vessels tonnage etc. to ensure they are up to the weather.
As a result you can literally put a rowing boat on this root. At the first breeze the Master can declare he cannot row across safely and the crossing will have been deemed to have been made!
If you read the contract you will also note there is no mention of relief vessels. As a result this service is doomed to 4 weeks of half service every year as boats are maintained. There is also no mention of the Cowal Games. Without a relief vessel this service does not have the peak capacity required to deal with the numbers of people who do want to come on foot to the games. Even in the days of the streakers, which could carry 500 people each, there were lengthy queues right from the pier front to the road.
- Simon those 80 cancelled sailing will have been deemed to have sailed under the Transport Scotland contract and so the reliability will have been 100% over that period.
The posters on the bathtubs showing high reliability were funny at first but the joke is wearing thin now.
No doubt we will hear excuses that Dunoon was hit yet again with extreme weather. My recollection was that people were out sailing and the weather was not great but nothing exceptional.
Recent comments by ferryman
- Responses to Scottish Government’s Information Day on potential Gourock-Dunoon ferry service
As usual newsroom bends things by quoting the MVA report as saying the vehicle service ‘could be feasible’.
In fact the reports states; “This study has therefore demonstrated that, given the assumptions made and analysis
undertaken here,a passenger and vehicle ferry service IS feasible.”
[ see section 9.1.10 http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/files/documents/reports/j278759/j278759.pdf ]
I am not surprised that Serco are interested in what is Scotland’s busiest vehicle ferry route particularly when the competition turns such a massive profit margin from poorly located ports.
If Serco have wider ambitions for ferries in Scotland, as it seems they do, then Dunoon Gourock would make sense.
- Scottish Government moves on Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Services provision
“A lifeline ferry service is required in order for a community to be viable.”
So Dunoon is lifeline then – good.
- Scottish Government moves on Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Services provision
Newsroom says that Dunoon Gourock is “not a lifeline service”.
I think Dunoon Gourock is an essential lifeline service but obviously Soapbox aka Newsroom does not.
So where is the definition of “lifeline” so that we can decide who is correct?
The answer is that there is no definition – Transport Scotland shall decide, route by route, to whom that applies.
As to contractual terms, look at Dunoon Gourock, anybody can run anything there is absolutely no contractual need for the service to be reliable. So if your route is goung to be tendered in this way you are totally unprotected.
Of course Dunoon Gourock is only a piddling little route – well no, according to the Scottish Government it is the most important Scottish route for vehicle transport and significant even on European terms, but that of course is not enough to make it lifeline in Newsroom’s eyes.
- So what will Transport Scotland talk to Brussels about on Dunoon-Gourock ferry?
Read the report.
The taxpayer and the people of Dunoon/Cowal can have a passenger only service and pay a subsidy for it.
Alternatively they can pay the same subsidy and get a passenger and vehicle service.
Of course if they choose the vehicle service then the subsidy is paid back via berthing fees both to the Scottish Government and Argyll and Bute Council – in other words to the public purse it is for practical purposes free (which the passenger only service is not). Not only that but the operator of the vehicle service makes a larger profit.
All of which in a Scottish Government produced report meets all EC requirements.
- Lairds powering on to get Western’s boats completed
So they are not actually as promised going to be in service for the games this year?
If they were in service what would the additional car carrying capacity and people carrying capacity per hour have been?
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