Sandbanks Ferry Company 'not to blame' for three-month closure

Sandbanks Ferry under repair in Southampton Image copyright Sandbanks Ferry Company
Image caption Repairs to the ferry are due to take three months to complete

A breakdown that has put a ferry out of action for three months cannot be blamed on its owner, an MP says.

The Sandbanks Ferry Company said a drive shaft failure in July was "unprecedented" on vessels of its type.

South Dorset MP Richard Drax said the company "couldn't be faulted" as it was told the shaft would last the lifetime of the vessel.

It said it was confident that repairs on the Studland to Poole service would be completed by October.

Image caption The alternative route from Bournemouth to Swanage by road is 25 miles (40km)

Managing director Mike Kean, said: "The failing of the drive shaft is... one which, to my knowledge, has never occurred on any other ferry of this type."

He said the firm had paid an extra £46,000 to obtain replacement parts from the manufacturer more quickly.

Image caption Ferry firm managing director Michael Kean said the mechanical fault was "unprecedented"

Mr Kean said no stand-in vessel would be put in place.

"We have carried out an exhaustive search in the hope of finding a similar vessel to provide a stand-in service, but regrettably there are no suitable ferries on the market," he said.

Drivers between Bournemouth and Swanage face a 25-mile (40km) road journey until repairs are completed.

Image copyright HoC
Image caption South Dorset MP said the ferry company could not be faulted

Mr Drax, who met Mr Kean on Monday with Poole MP Sir Robert Syms, said the firm was not to blame over the breakdown or its response.

"We couldn't fault him in anything that he's done," the MP said.

Mr Drax said the ferry, which came into service in 1994, had an expected life of at least 35 years and was regularly inspected.

Studland Parish Council previously said the ferry operator should lose its right to operate the service.

The vessel was suspended for nearly three months last winter due to annual maintenance and then a hydraulic issue. It only ran on two days between 29 October and 28 January.

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