Proposal for a new ferry between

Edinburgh & Fife

Proposal - 2003

Brian Souter, Chief Executive of the bus operator, Stagecoach, has announced that he Stagecoach is considering operating a fast commuter ferry between Edinburgh and Fife, linking Leith with either Burntisland or Kirkcaldy.  [16 August 2003]

Update  -  2005

The Stagecoach bus operator, Brian Souter, has confirmed his wish to establish a fast ferry link between Edinburgh and Fife.  He claims to have government support for his proposals and believes that the ferry could be operating within two to three years.

Possible crossing points would be:

-   Burntisland to Leith (10 minutes)

-   Kirkcaldy to Leith (17 minutes)

A twin-hulled passenger ferry able to take 350 passengers and buses might cost 10m.  [3 May 2005]


Edinburgh Evening News  16 August 2003, p.7

Edinburgh Evening News  3 May 2005, p.9


Earlier Ferries on the Forth

Granton to Burntisland

Ferries, including "The Leviathan" and "William Muir" have operated between Granton (3 miles to the north of the centre of Edinburgh) and Burntisland (Fife)  between 1838 and 1955.

A catamaran service ran between Granton and Burntisland for a couple of years from 1991, but passenger levels were low.

North Queensferry to South Queensferry

There have been ferries across the Forth between South Queensferry and North Queensferry since the 12th century. 

The last vehicle ferry across the Firth of Forth at Queensferry ended in 1964 when the Forth Road Bridge opened.

Rosyth to Zeebrugge

A daily 'Superfast' passenger and vehicle ferry has been operating between Rosyth and Zeebrugge in Belgium since 2002.  This has been well supported.


Leith to Kirkcaldy Ferry

Funding for a Ferry Service

The Forth Estuaries Transport Authority (FETA) which controls the Forth Road Bridge had earmarked 19.3m from its anticipated income from tolls towards a project to create a high speed ferry across the Firth of Forth from Kirkcaldy in Fife to Leith.

It was anticipated that this service might commence in 2007, using twin-hulled ferries each able to carry 350 passengers and complete the journey in 17 minutes.

The funds earmarked for it by FETA were dependant on increased toll income from vehicles crossing the Forth Road Bridge. However, it has now  been decided that tolls will not increase, so funds for the ferry will no longer be available from FETA.

Despite lack of funding from FETA, a ferry may still be a possibility.  See below.

Fife Council recently put out to tender a contract for marine consultants to advise on the proposed crossing.  They were unhappy with the bids, but will make further attempts to find consultants.


Proposed Hovercraft

Portobello to Kirkcaldy

Trial Service - October 2006

The Edinburgh Evening News announced, on September 12, 2006, that the bus group, Stagecoach, planned to run a 3-week  trial, during October 2006, of a  hovercraft service between Portobello and Kirkcaldy.  If successful, the service could become permanent within 18 months.

It is expected that the journey would take about 20 minutes - about an hour quicker than some bus journeys between Portobello and Kirkcaldy now.  The current bus route is via the Forth Road Bridge, about 10 miles to the west of Edinburgh.  (Both Portobello and Kirkcaldy are east of Edinburgh.)

It is proposed to borrow a 105 ft long Hovercraft from the Isle of Wight for the trial.  It will be able to carry 150 passengers.

The destination at Portobello is the beach at the northern end of King's Road, close to the old Portobello Power Station, with a temporary walkway being built for passengers behind the Lothian Buses bus depot at Seafield Road East.

Stagecoach said that Portobello has been chosen as the destination on the south side of the Firth of Forth because no suitable landing site could be found at Leith

Stagecoach are expected to offer tickets on the hovercraft to passengers travelling between Kirkcaldy and Edinburgh by bus, then seek their views on speed, noise, convenience and comfort of the service.

Edinburgh Evening News:  September 12, 2006,  pp. 1, 5

Postponed until Summer 2007

One day after announcing the trial service, Stagecoach, have had to announce its postponement.  It will nor be possible to implement the trial until an assessment of the environmental impact of the service has been carried out.  This will include a 14-week consultation period.

Edinburgh Evening News:  September 13, 2006,  p.6

Update:  February 2007

Trial runs of a 4.5m, 120-seat hovercraft, to be operated by Stagecoach between Kirkcaldy and Portobello, are due be carried out for 3 weeks during  May 2007. 

A free shuttle bus is to carry passengers between the hovercraft at Portobello and the centre of Edinburgh.

Scottish National Heritage has now withdrawn its objections.  The impact of the service on birds and other wildlife in the Forth will be assessed during the trial.

Edinburgh Evening News:  February 28, 2007,  p.7


Update:  May 2007

I have been told by Stagecoach that the ferry trials are now scheduled to take place when the Forth Rail Bridge is closed for repair in summer 2007.

The Forth Rail Bridge will be closed from July 23 until July 29, 2007, to enable work to be carried out on at Inverkeithing Junction and on the tunnel at North Queensferry        Edinburgh Evening News:  May 15, 2007,  pp.1-2