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There seems to be a political sickness on …

Comment posted Western Ferries signs contract with Cammell Laird for new Dunoon-Gourock ferries by Robert Wakeham.

There seems to be a political sickness on the lower Clyde that is responsible for a lot more than just the Dunoon – Gourock ferry saga.
The very poor performance of the SPTE is one symptom, and the apparent muddle over how to organise publicly funded ferry services, with the Scottish and European authorities trying to navigate their way through a legislative minefield is another symptom. Fragmented responsibility for landing facilities just adds to the problem, as does the apparent inability to provide easy transfer between passenger rail and ferry services at Gourock. Will all this ever be resolved unless there’s a really effective passenger transport authority for the area? Who else but the Holyrood government can take the initiative (and show that they really can govern)?

Robert Wakeham also commented

  • Not arrogance – just astonishment that you’d wish to defend such a poor arrangement, and I wonder if the boarding system for the current ferries is any easier? ‘Struggling’ could well be right.
  • Ferryman: If you think that my criticism of the boarding arrangements to the streaker service is ‘some kind of fetish’ you’ve no real idea of what a decent passenger ferry should be like. You’re right that I wasn’t a regular user of the service, and for that I’m very thankful. If you were – as a passenger – it beggars belief that you’re so ignorant of just how bad the boarding facilities were by any reasonable current-day standards.
  • Calmac was shackled by having primitive boats, from a passenger point of view – and although the cafe was a nice feature (but not really necessary for such a short run, while undoubtedly helping to make the passenger service uneconomic) the boarding arrangements were astonishingly bad, compounded by a steep exposed stair down from the upper deck to the lounge. I wasn’t a regular user of this service, and it seemed to me that the boats – however seaworthy – were nowhere near the quality of what passengers could reasonably expect. (and don’t get me started on the dismal facilities at Gourock for passengers transferring between boat and train)
  • Ferryman, I think that there very clearly is a ‘minefield of legislation’. The sheer laboriousness and cost (in money, time, and damage to the ongoing provision of fit for purpose ferry links) of the processes involved by the Holyrood governments over recent years in their attempts to reconcile the operation of the publicly owned and managed ferry system with European competition rules point to this. There’s a risk of being so fixated on the Dunoon – Gourock saga, which has been hamstrung by the historic failure of the traditional route to change to match demand, that the bigger picture is being missed. You don’t mention SPT; count yourself fortunate if you don’t live on the Rosneath peninsula, and if you look further afield there are clearly huge potential disadvantages in ‘balkanising’ the Calmac routes, whatever the advantages of introducing private initiative – and ‘cherrypicking’ remains another obvious problem.
  • Ferryman, why didn’t you address this in the ‘other post’? Changing the subject is not replying to DunoonLad’s comment.

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