Bid to revive Forth ferry crossing by next summer

TALKS are under way to bring regular ferry crossings back to the Forth, reviving a service that last ran almost 20 years ago.

TALKS are under way to bring regular ferry crossings back to the Forth, reviving a service that last ran almost 20 years ago.

Pentland Ferries, which operates between Caithness and the southern tip of Orkney, hopes to introduce a passenger service working between Burntisland and Granton harbour by next summer, The Scotsman has learned.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Andrew Banks, managing director, confirmed he was looking to operate two ferries for commuters and that early-stage talks were taking place.

“We are speaking to Forth Ports at the moment to find out who owns the land at each end,” he said. “We’ve also looked at ferries all over the world to see what is available.

“Hopefully we might have something going by next year. It depends on getting the right infrastructure in place.”

The company has examined proposals outlined by Fife Council, which has been looking at introducing a ferry service between the two locations for at least four years.

The council estimated that infrastructure would cost upwards of £3 million and would have to involve Edinburgh and Fife councils, the Forth Estuary Transport Association, Forth Ports and the Scottish Government. SEStran, the regional transport body for south-east Scotland, would also be involved.

The last regular service between Burntisland and Granton was provided by a catamaran capable of carrying 250 passengers. It ended in 1993 after two years.

Transport company Stagecoach ran a successful hovercraft trial service between Kirkcaldy and Portobello in the summer of 2007 which carried 32,000 passengers in a fortnight.

But plans to operate a regular 20-minute service linking up with bus services were thrown out by Edinburgh councillors last December on the grounds of noise and visual impact.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Stagecoach chief executive Sir Brian Souter was surprised by the decision but said he would not appeal.

Despite that setback, and the two-year wait for Edinburgh council to consider Stagecoach’s planning application, Mr Banks believes a ferry service is still viable and that the numbers who used Sir Brian’s trial service prove it would be popular, even at a time when a second road crossing is being built to alleviate traffic problems.

A Fife Council report estimated that a regular ferry could carry a million passengers a year.

“I think that is on the high side, but we think there would be a demand for it,” said Mr Banks.

A Forth Ports spokesman said: “Discussions are under way to create a passenger ferry route between Burntisland and Granton and we would welcome it.”

Alistair Clyne, leader of Fife Council’s policy and strategy team, said: “As we’ve said in the past, and as was reported to the council, Fife will help to provide any non-financial assistance it can, to enable a cross-Forth service to be delivered by a commercial operator.”