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Last Updated: Friday, 13 July 2007, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Hovercraft lift-off for the Forth
The hovercraft service will run between Fife and Edinburgh
Passengers will be able to cross the Firth of Forth by hovercraft from next week as commercial ferry trials get under way.

The service will carry up to 130 passengers at a time between Portobello in Edinburgh and Kirkcaldy in Fife.

Stagecoach is trialling the system from Monday until 28 July, with the backing of 100,000 of public funding.

More than 20 services a day on the 28m craft will be available to the public during the two-week trial.

During the trial an ongoing environmental impact study will take place to determine the effects of the service, particularly in relation to bird life.

Millions of people around the world start their working day on a hovercraft or ferry
Phil Wheeler
Edinburgh Council

If successful, it is hoped it could cut congestion for commuters on the Forth road and rail bridges by carrying about 470,000 passengers a year.

Brian Souter, Stagecoach Group chief executive, said: "We are delighted that after a huge amount of work, as well as strong support from statutory organisations and the local community, we are now able to get a hovercraft on the water.

"The Forth estuary is an underused resource and we are looking forward to giving people a chance to see the benefits this technology could bring to the region's communities, economy and public transport system.

"It is crucial we have a wide range of public transport options to cope with the increasing flow of people between Fife and the Edinburgh area."

It is hoped the service could be a way to cut congestion

The South East of Scotland Transport Partnership (Sestran) chairman councillor Russell Imrie said: "This trial hovercraft service is an example of the sort of creative thinking needed to provide south east Scotland with a 21st Century transport system. That's why we are backing it with 92,000 of funding."

Councillor Phil Wheeler, Edinburgh Council transport leader, said: "Millions of people around the world start their working day on a hovercraft or ferry.

"Providing commuters with innovative and attractive public transport options is critical to ensuring journeys are quick and stress-free, congestion is eased and pollution is cut."

Councillor Tony Martin, chairman of Fife Council's environment and transportation committee said: "We support this trial. Hopefully, people will be able to use the hovercraft for both leisure and business purposes.

"Anything that reduces the need for car travel is to be welcomed."

The first service will leave Kirkcaldy at 0710 BST, with the last service to Portobello departing at 1800 BST.

Services from Portobello will operate between 0735 BST and 1830 BST. No services will operate on Sunday 22 July.

Brian Souter describes the advantages of the hovercraft

Forth hovercraft trial to begin
19 Jun 07 |  Edinburgh and East
Forth hovercraft trials to start
01 Mar 07 |  Edinburgh and East
Hovercraft to transport commuters
12 Sep 06 |  Edinburgh and East

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