Dorset

Sandbanks Ferry returns to service after repairs

Sandbanks Ferry under repair in Southampton Image copyright Sandbanks Ferry Company
Image caption The closure of the ferry left people facing a diversion of up to 25 miles (40km)

A chain ferry which helps motorists avoid a 25-mile (40km) drive has returned to service 16 weeks after being removed for repair work.

The Sandbanks Ferry, which provides a connection between Poole and the Isle of Purbeck, was taken out of service on 12 July after its drive shaft broke.

The operator said it wanted to apologise to residents and businesses who had experienced "a difficult and frustrating summer".

It resumed crossings at 07:00 GMT.

Calls were made for the Sandbanks Ferry Company to lose its operating licence following the breakdown, and an MP said the outage had badly affected businesses.

Mike Kean, managing director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, said the failure of the drive shaft system had been "unexpected and unforeseen".

"Our staff and contractors have worked incredibly hard over the summer on the repairs in order to return the ferry to the passengers who rely on it."

Image copyright Bournemouth Swanage Ferry Co
Image caption There were calls for the operator to lose its licence

The company said it spent an additional £46,000 to ensure the repairs were completed as quickly as possible.

The vessel was also 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.

Dan Scott, who runs an adventure travel company at Studland, said he was "delighted and super-excited" the vessel was back in service.

"It's been missed. As a small business we rely on the footfall of our customers so it has definitely affected business," he said.

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