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Thursday, 9 March, 2000, 14:50 GMT
Seacat pulls out of Stranraer
The Seacat service will only run from Troon
SeaCat is withdrawing its ferry service from the port of Stranraer to Northern Ireland.

The fast ferry service, owned by Sea Containers, has been at the centre of a dispute with Dumfries and Galloway Council, which wanted a commitment to Stranraer.

The council was unhappy when SeaCat started a service from Troon and served a notice on the company to evict it from temporary premises it had occupied since it started in 1992.

The council wanted Seacat to build a permanent terminal, securing the company's future in the town.

Consolidating services

But SeaCat says its Troon to Belfast route, introduced in April 1999, is so successful that it will consolidate its services at the Ayrshire port.

Regular services from Stranraer will cease on 13 March but it will be used as a back-up port in the event of operational need.

Fast ferry
Services are being moved from Stranraer to Troon
Staff affected by the decision will be offered transfers to other areas of SeaCat's operations.

Last year, the service from Troon carried 202,000 passengers and 44,000 vehicles.

Sea Containers' Irish Sea operations managing director Hamish Ross said the decision was in direct response to the positive feedback from passengers.

'Attractive gateway'

"Troon, with its proximity to Glasgow and the Central Belt and excellent road and rail links, has proved to be an attractive gateway to Northern Ireland boosting tourism generally.

"We are keen that staff affected directly by our decision to consolidate will remain with the company and we will be having discussions in the next few weeks on the various opportunities and alternatives available.

"We will also be meeting with Dumfries and Galloway Council to explain our decision and discuss the issues arising from it."

Although there will be concern in the Stranraer area, local MP and MSP Alasdair Morgan said the town could survive without SeaCat:

"Given that SeaCat are the smallest of the three operators that go into Loch Ryan, I don't think in the short term this is a major blow to Stranraer.

"The other two, the larger operators, are putting significant investment into their facilities.

"However, I do think in the medium term this does flag up a potential problem because there is no doubt that it is the condition of the A77 road from Stranraer as far north as Ayr that is a significant factor in them thinking they can provide their customers with a better service going from Troon."
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See also:

07 Dec 99 |  Scotland
Seacat terminal dispute inquiry
20 Jul 99 |  The Company File
Eviction order over ferry dispute
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