Plan for Kirkcaldy-Leith ferry crossing in new transport report

Plans for a ferry crossing from Kirkcaldy to Edinburgh are set to be published this week.

The proposal is included in a detailed public transport plan which will be unveiled on Friday, and then discussed by councillors in Edinburgh next week.

The idea of a ferry from Leith to Kirkcaldy is at its very early stages, but has been the subject of discussions between politicians on either side of the Forth, and a private company interested in running the service.

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The blueprint forms part of the capital’s bid to achieve its net zero targets by 2030, and prioritise public transport, and while much of it is focussed on a new tram line and bus lanes, the ferry link will raise interest this side of the Forth.

The Forthfast Hovercraft from Kirkcaldy to Portobello in 2007 Pic Neil Hanna

It is 15 years since the idea of a hovercraft was first put forward as a key transport link between the city and the Kingdom - and the idea has never fully gone away.

Councillor Scott Arthur, who represents the Colinton, Oxgangs and Fairmilehead ward in Edinburgh, and who comes from the Lang Toun, said: “The proposal remains at an early stage, but progress is being made.

“It is anticipated that three vessels will be required, and these would be housed and maintained in Fife. As well as supporting commuting, it is anticipated the service would be a tourist attraction in its own right.”

His report goes to the city’s transport and environment committee on Friday, and will then be published on February 2.

The idea of a Forth crossing came close to taking off in 2007 when Stagecoach boss Brian Soutar went as far as staging a hovercraft trial from Seafield in Kirkcaldy across to Portobello which sparked huge interest.

Thousands of passengers boarded the 22 super fast crossings over a fortnight, experiencing a journey that took less than 20 minutes, but it never went any further.

For a ferry to get off the ground, it would need an operator, and a change of mindset from councillors in Edinburgh.

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While the original plan had the wholehearted backing of councillors in Kirkcaldy - who saw the benefits it would bring to the town and as a gateway to the Kingdom for tourists and day-trippers - their city counterparts killed it off when they refused permission for a landing ramp in Portobello in 2011.

Three years later, Forthfast was set up, but it came to nothing. Over the years there has been intermittent talk of launching a service, but none have ever taken off.

The original plan envisaged a terminal at Seafield, sparking further blueprints for waterfront flats and leisure facilities to transform the area, and bring many people into the heart of the Lang Toun.

Councillor Arthur, Edinburgh’s transport convener, said the extension of the city’s trams to Newhaven had sparked renewed interest in links across the Forth.

He said: “This is about taking some of those cars off the road and getting them to use what would essentially be public transport and connecting with the tramline to get into Edinburgh."

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