Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 17:18 UK

Ferry firm to axe Rosyth service

The Superfast Ferry
The ferry first sailed in 2002

A ferry firm running services from Scotland to continental Europe is to stop operating out of Rosyth, the company has confirmed.

Superfast Ferries runs daily from Rosyth in Fife to Zeebrugge in Belgium.

The Greece-based company said the service would end in mid-September. Sources blamed fuel costs and passenger numbers for the decision.

The Scottish Government said it was "disappointed" as it was "a commercially successful service".

Fleet deployment

The service was launched six years ago and the crossing to the Belgian port takes about 18 hours.

It saves passengers and truckers having to drive via Hull or the English Channel ports.

Each ferry can carry more than 1,000 passengers, 120 cars and 100 commercial vehicles.

A statement from the company's board of directors said: "We regret to announce the discontinuation of the Rosyth to Zeebrugge ferry service as of 14 September, 2008."

The company said that the vessel which operates on the route will be redeployed in other markets where it currently operates.

Scottish Ministers are strongly committed to the continuation of this route, and will pursue all viable options to achieve continuity of a commercially operated service
Transport Minister
Stewart Stevenson

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said the decision was "very disappointing".

He said: "We have been working closely with Superfast's parent company Attica to persuade them to continue to operate the route, as have Forth Ports. Ultimately this is a commercial decision for the company.

"Scottish Ministers are strongly committed to the continuation of this route, and will pursue all viable options to achieve continuity of a commercially operated service."

He said the government would seek to identify an alternative commercial operator for the service.

Russell Imrie, South East Scotland Transport Partnership (Sestran) chairman, said the decision was "difficult to understand on commercial grounds".

He said: "The ferry is currently operating at capacity and actually turning away potential business.

"The loss of the ferry link will inevitably impact upon the economy of the region, and that of Scotland as a whole, as travellers and freight companies seek access to ferry services elsewhere."

Potential marketplace

A spokesman for Forth Ports said: "This is disappointing news as the ferry link is an important part of Scotland's access to European markets.

"Our own analysis shows that the route could easily attract 60,000 freight units, within a potential marketplace of 200,000 freight units, making this a viable, profitable route for an operator with the right mix of vessels and frequency of sailings."

The Lib Dem MSP for Dunfermline West, Jim Tolson, said: "This is a devastating blow to industry and the local economy in Fife."

The leader of Fife Council, Peter Grant, said the area would "sorely miss" the benefits the ferry brought.

He said the council would make whatever contribution it could to "bring this ferry link back to life".

"There is still a great future for the port as a main gateway to Europe and I'm grateful for the work done by the Scottish Government to maintain this link so far," he said.

Labour MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, John Park, urged the Scottish Government to find an alternative provider as quickly as possible.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Murdo Fraser said: "I am urging the Scottish Government to work as long and as hard as it can to find a replacement operator for what was a very popular service."

CBI Scotland's assistant director David Lonsdale said: "As a nation on the periphery of major export markets in Europe it is crucial that Scotland maintains excellent transport links to the continent.

"The Superfast ferry has made a significant contribution to this over recent years, and it would be a great loss if that service was to cease, as it would reduce the range of affordable, practical and reliable transport options open to freight operators and manufacturers."

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11 May 01 |  Scotland

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