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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.

Recent comments by Robert Wakeham

  • With Heb Isles in for repairs, CalMac charters replacement vessel to reduce underprovision for Islay
    Scott Smith – you give the impression that you have advance knowledge of future vessel deployments, but you get your dates, boats and places jumbled up. Any chance you could clarify these, please?
  • With Heb Isles in for repairs, CalMac charters replacement vessel to reduce underprovision for Islay
    A movable mezzanine deck that can’t be repaired unless the ship is dry docked?
    Sounds a bit like a car that needs dismantling before the oil can be changed. I wonder if someone specified some really exotic features on that mezzanine deck that no commercial ship owner in their right mind would dream up in their worst nightmare – but which the ship builder was only too happy to install, if the price was right?
  • With Heb Isles in for repairs, CalMac charters replacement vessel to reduce underprovision for Islay
    The comments on this particular thread (at least, those that are relevant and not just trying to make everything political) can be read as reflecting wider concerns, and it’s now being reported in the newspapers that the seriously inadequate response of Calmac when the Hebridean Isles had to be withdrawn from service for repairs in the middle of the summer tourist season is going to be reviewed at a meeting in Islay in October, reportedly to be hosted by our MSP, to hold Calmac, Transport Scotland and the Government to account.
    Hopefully they’ll have the sense to leave the bullshit on the mainland.
  • With Heb Isles in for repairs, CalMac charters replacement vessel to reduce underprovision for Islay
    The BBC Scottish News website today has a lengthy item about Calmac’s trials and tribulations with the good ship Isle of Arran.
    However, it’s really only padding out the previously known facts as deemed suitable for release by Calmac, and leaves the details of the boat’s problems unexplained. It’s basically a case of ‘bear with us, there’ll be jam tomorrow’.
    Someone needs to spell out to the Calmac management – and our Holyrood politicians – that if you drive an old banger that wouldn’t pass its MOT and gave the police some feeble excuse about not being able to find spare parts you’d wind up in court.
    The BBC could at least have asked Calmac to explain what sort of problems were making the boat more susceptible to weather cancellations – and as to the Finlaggan running about with a broken mezzanine deck and the Heb Isles crashing into Kennacraig pier, maybe the BBC consider these matters to be unworthy of reporting, let alone investigation.
  • With Heb Isles in for repairs, CalMac charters replacement vessel to reduce underprovision for Islay
    Quoting me out of context, NCH – but it’s nice to know that you read my despicable comments in the Herald, as well as enthusiastically scrutinising this, your favourite despicable blog. Chin up, don’t let your enemies get you down.

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