SPT must ‘get a grip’ says MSP Baillie

Still attached to the pier - the 07.15 ferry yesterday (Thursday)

MSP Jackie Baillie has again called for SPT to take action over Kilcreggan’s ferry service, this time after an incident when the boat seemed to try leaving the village pier – despite still being tied to it.

She called on Strathclyde Partnership for Transport “to get a grip” over Clydelink’s handling of the ferry following ‘yet another fiasco’, this time on the 07.15 service yesterday (Thursday).

The Dumbarton MSP said passengers travelling on the Island Princess were left stunned as the skipper attempted to set sail from Kilcreggan pier whilst still tethered to the wooden frame.

SPT moved to defend their handling of the route, with a spokesperson countering: “We are aware of passenger comments which are being widely reported out of context. SPT takes the safety of passengers very seriously.

“We understand that bad weather at the time caused the boat to drift and the operator assured us that the rope was deliberately left in place as an added security measure. As the engine wasn’t engaged at the time that was entirely appropriate. The service then continued as usual.”

Earlier she had said: “Enough is enough. SPT really need to get a grip of this situation.

“Since SPT awarded the tender to Clyde link in April it has been one thing after another blighting this service.

“I would urge SPT to call for a full investigation into this matter. It is clear that awarding a contract based on lowest cost does not prove for a reliable and fully functional service.

“It is clear from FOI responses that passengers have received that Clydelink have failed to adhere to the majority of their contract.

“Passengers were promised a new 60-seater vessel, but instead are being ferried from Gourock to Kilcreggan in a 16-year-old boat which has broken down on several occasions.

“Clydelink is clearly in breach of contract and I would expect SPT, at the very least, to issue penalties, and if the service does not make an immediate improvement, to find a replacement operator.

SPT has a duty of care and they need to step up to the plate and provide my constituents with a safe and reliable service.”

Speaking about the latest ferry incident, one local resident said: “The boat was actually stopped by the rope. By the shouts of the crew it appeared that there was little control of the boat. After several minutes we moved back to the pier where the rope was removed. Is this proper seamanship?”

Passengers wrote to SPT and MSPs after the incident, and Mark Aikman of Clydelink responded to them by saying the master and crew had acted competently:

  1. The gangway was retrieved and secured after passenger boarding had been completed.
  2. The stern mooring line was released, with the loose end retained onboard to place onto the pier at the same time as the spring line (Normal practice), this can be seen as the loose rope in the image that you have provided.
  3. Just after the stern mooring line was released a gust of wind caught the vessel and she drifted from the pier, attached by her spring line to the pier.
  4. The master of the vessel decided to return the vessel alongside in order to ensure that the mooring lines were placed safely on the pier.
  5. The vessel’s crew have confirmed that the time involved from the vessel drifting from the pier to returning alongside was around 45 seconds.

On May 30 Ms Baillie, her fellow MSP Duncan McNeil and ferry users met SPT to outline their concerns; they were told that the back-up boat Cailin Oir would be given its passenger certificate by the MCA within ‘a few days’ so that it could take over while the Island Princess was upgraded, but there is still no sign of this happening.

Today (Friday) no ferries were running on the route because of high winds, with the situation due to be reviewed at 3pm.

7 Comments

  1. All the other services in this area were running though. Isn’t it odd that anytime there is a bit of weather this boat seems to go off? Would it be unreasonable to suggest that this might be because the boat isn’t suitable for such a crossing and no amount of internal tarting up will change how it handles despite what SPT might wish to think?

  2. It doesn’t look good for the winter when as soon as there is a summer breeze the Island Princess cannot sail.
    People will start to vote with their feet, if this situation is allowed to carry on. There are only so many times an employer will accept the ecxcuse of ‘the ferry was off again’

  3. It doesn’t look good for the winter, as soon as there is a slight breeze the ferry is off. People have already started voting with their feet and this will continue if this situation continues. There are only so many times that an employer will accept the excuse of ‘the ferry was cancelled again’

  4. I hope this Freudian slip is not indicative of the SPT’s longterm plans for Kilcreggan Pier. Do they secretly want to pull it down, thus making the need for a ferry service academic? SPT’s continuing failure to react constructively to the difficulties they have caused in the lives of people who rely on this service, is truly shameful.

  5. The responses from SPT regarding this issues are beyond belief. They simply are not listening. I sincerely hope it doess not take a serious accident before they listen. It’s time heads rolled, but it seems in SPT world, all is rosy.

    They have been warned.

  6. We should all remember that there are 2 issues here;
    1. The apparently questionable competence of the new operators to sustain their service in anything other than millpond conditions (something the old Seabus achieved routinely) ; surely the MCA need to assess competence, & suitability on a breezy day?.
    2. The reliance on this service that a significant number of peninsular residents in both public and private sectors have. The current running down of the service means that instead of using more eco friendly public transport, the number of single occupancy car journeys to/from Glasgow & the airport has surely doubled?

    So, it seems SPT have an agenda to get us all off public transport and back inb our cars on the road; or take our chances with a maybe safe service which doesn’t really run at useful times, can this really be true?

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