Glasgow & West Scotland

Gourock-Dunoon ferry route to be passenger only

Dunoon ferry, picture courtesy of David Blackwood from Johnstone
Image caption Locals had hoped there would be a way to maintain a car service

The car ferry service between Gourock and Dunoon town centres is to come to an end.

CalMac currently operates a car ferry crossing on the route in competition with private company Western Ferries.

The new tender, for a passenger only service, has been awarded to CalMac's Argyll Ferries and starts on 30 June.

Both Argyll and Bute and Inverclyde councils had hoped it would be possible to find another way of keeping a car service going.

Argyll Ferries are part of the Caledonian MacBrayne group David McBrayne Ltd.

Agency Transport Scotland said the £10.6m, six-year contract would provide a bigger and faster ferry, with increased services.

Infrastructure Secretary Alex Neil, said: "This bid is set to deliver real benefits for passengers with a larger boat and additional sailings, offering best value for money and protecting the majority of existing jobs."

He added: "This has been a fair and open tendering process within the confines of an EU decision that only allows for a subsidy for a passenger service on this route.

"We are disappointed not to be able to offer a vehicle and passenger service, however appreciate that under the EU decision this was not a viable option for tenderers."

The Argyll Ferries bid will involve a larger vessel, with capacity for up to 244 people, running alongside a smaller alternate boat. It will run a half-hourly service on the route.

Argyll and Bute Council leader Dick Walsh, said: "It is very disappointing that the process has not produced what the communities wanted - a regular vehicle and passenger service between Dunoon and Gourock town centres.

"Having said that, I am pleased that we finally have a clear decision from the government which will allow us to move on and work out how best to ensure that the people of Dunoon and the surrounding area can benefit from the service they will have."

The two car ferry services between Gourock and Dunoon, cut the road journey to Glasgow from more than two hours to as little as 40 minutes.

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