A new timetable will mean 20% fewer sailings on weekdays between Gourock and Kilcreggan for the Island Princess from Monday (August 6).
The 07.50 sailing from Kilcreggan will now leave later, meaning there is no train connection in Gourock which will reach Glasgow before 9am – again, service has been relied on by commuters for many years.
The wholesale changes follow an instruction by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) that operators Clydelink should use four ropes to tie the ferry to piers, rather than two ropes as they have been doing since taking over the service on April 1.
This adds extra time to every sailing, meaning that on weekdays there will be only 12 sailings daily rather than 15; the new timetable is described as temporary but there is no indication from SPT or Clydelink of when or if it will be changed.
Clydelink undercut previous operators Clyde Marine by asking for an annual subsidy of £174,950; it was later announced that they would not need Kilcreggan’s 115 year-old pier to be manned. The subsidy was based on 15 sailings every weekday, as shown in the SPT tender documentation.
A statement by Clydelink last night (Friday) said: “Due to the implementation of revised berthing arrangements it has been necessary to agree a revised timetable with SPT from Monday August 6.
“We are required to implement these MCA berthing procedures immediately and therefore do apologise for the unavoidable short notice.”
According to the timetable published on Friday night, the last ferry on weekdays would have left Gourock five minutes earlier than previously – meaning passengers who work in Glasgow would have to catch a train which leaves Central Station at 17.05 rather than 17.25.
Then on Saturday afternoon Clydelink announced that the timetable had been changed again, with the last boat leaving Gourock at 1810, departing from Kilcreggan 1835 and arriving at Gourock at 1847.