Hovercraft and Ferries

 

Hovercraft Trials

2007

Stagecoach ran hovercraft trials across the Firth of Forth between Portobello and Kirkcaldy for 2 weeks in July 2007. 

Hovercraft approaching Portobello, during the second day of trials for the Portobello-Kirkcaldy service  -  July 17, 2007

The company declared these trials to be a success, and now estimates that the number of people who would use a hovercrafts service between Leith and Kirkcaldy would reach 870,000 within four years.

Leith to Kirkcaldy  -  2008 and 2009

Stagecoach is considering investing 8.7m to buy two hovercraft, to operate between Ocean Terminal (Leith Docks) and Kirkcaldy (Fife).  The service could start in mid-2009.

This would first require a hovercraft terminal to be constructed at Ocean Terminal.  Until that was built, the service could operate between Portobello and Kirkcaldy, beginning, perhaps in late-2008.

Other Services

Stagecoach is also considering other routes across the Forth, including:

-  a Granton to Burntisland service using a 75 passenger catamaran.

-  a hovercraft service between Edinburgh, Alloa and Methil

Edinburgh Evening News:  October 26, 2007:  p.21

Update

1.

January 2008

Stagecoach Plans

Stagecoach has drawn up plans for operating a hovercraft service across the Firth of Forth, but say that it would need a 3.3m subsidy for the first three years.

Labour Party MSP, George Foulkes has argued against any such subsidy being given without the project being put out to tender, particularly as Stagecoach's Chief Executive, Brian Souter has been the biggest donor to the Scottish National Party.

The SNP say that they have not yet received any detailed business plan for t Forth hovercraft service, and until they do, any questions about tendering are hypothetical.

Edinburgh Evening News:  January 29, 2008:  p.9

 

Update

2.

January 2008

Stagecoach Plans - suspended

Stagecoach says that it has now suspended work on its proposal to operate a hovercraft across the Forth until it gets an answer from the Scottish Government as to whether or not any public money will be made available for the project.

Edinburgh Evening News:  February 20, 2008:  p.7

 

Update

3.

February 2008

Granton-Burntisland  -  Ferry suggested

A ferry to operate between Granton and Burntisland has been suggested.  This would require harbour structure work to be done at Granton and Burntisland at an estimated cost of 3.3m

It is believed that, a 75-passenger catamaran would be able to complete the journey across the Forth in 20 minutes, and that a service could be operating by late-2009 or early-2010.

This proposal has won the backing of Fife and Edinburgh councils.

Granton-Burntisland Ferry - The previous ferry

The last ferry to operate between Granton and Burntisland was also a catamaran, 'Spirit of Fife'.  It carried 99,000 passengers in its first year in 1991, but the number fell to under 60,000 by 1993 and the service ended.

Edinburgh Evening News:  February 21, 2008:  p.8

 

Update

4.

April 2008

Delay

A report by consultants Dundas & Wilson warns that a public subsidy of to Stagecoach, or a public subsidy for work done in order to enable a ferry to operate between Granton and Burntisland,  would require the approval of the European Commission under state aid rules.

This could mean a delay of up to two years before any work could get underway on construction of landing and on-shore facilities for a ferry across the Forth.

Edinburgh Evening News:  April 15, 2008:  p.11

 

Update

5.

July 2008

Granton-Burntisland  -  Larger Ferry suggested

Pentland Ferries,  the Orkney-based company that operates two ferries between Orkney and the mainland, has suggested:

-  operating a 300-passenger ferry service across the Firth of Forth, between Granton and Burntisland.  It would make the crossing in 30 minutes.

-  adding a second ferry service, between Granton and Kirkcaldy or Methil if the first ferry is successful.

The company believes that it would be able to operate the service without subsidy, but it would be seeking funding to provide the infrastructure - pontoons and passenger waiting rooms.

Edinburgh Evening News:  July 29, 2008:  p.11

 

Update

6.

July 2008

Granton-Burntisland  -  Larger Ferry suggested

Pentland Ferries,  the Orkney-based company that operates two ferries between Orkney and the mainland, has suggested:

-  operating a 300-passenger ferry service across the Firth of Forth, between Granton and Burntisland.  It would make the crossing in 30 minutes.

-  adding a second ferry service, between Granton and Kirkcaldy or Methil if the first ferry is successful.

The company believes that it would be able to operate the service without subsidy, but it would be seeking funding to provide the infrastructure - pontoons and passenger waiting rooms.

Edinburgh Evening News:  July 29, 2008:  p.11

 

Update

7.

November 2009

Over the past year, I've seen very little press comment about the proposed hovercraft across the Forth of Forth.  However, an article did appear in the Edinburgh Evening News on November 20, 2009.  Here are some extracts from the article:

Portobello - Kirkcaldy

"Transport giant, Stagecoach, has set up a joint venture with hovercraft makers, Bland Group, for the new service between Edinburgh and Fife.  Each company has agreed to contribute 7 million.

Stagecoach said they want to run two hovercraft on the route., with crossings every 25 minutes at peak times and an hourly off-peak service.

An estimated 870,000 passengers will use the hovercraft every year after it is set up.

The firms are due to submit planning applications to Edinburgh and Fife councils before the end of the year."

Edinburgh Evening News:  November 20, 2009, p.15

 

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