23rd April 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Sumburgh to Gills Bay (John Tulloch)

I recently read an excellent book, Who Pays the Ferryman, by ferries expert Roy Pederson, in which he explains how, among other things, vastly cheaper ferry fares between Shetland and the Scottish mainland could become available.

Some capital investment would be needed for a terminal at/near Sumburgh from where a ferry could ply between Shetland and Gills Bay, Caithness. The trip could be accomplished, at least twice, daily, and would make a game-changing difference to fares for travel and freight transport.

Such a service already operates between St Margaret’s Hope, Orkney and Gills Bay, Caithness. Pentland Ferries’ impressive catamaran ferry, Pentalina, beats NorthLink on both crossing time and price, even though they receive no subsidy.

Pentland Ferries owner Andrew Banks is quoted in Mr Pederson’s book as saying that, were Pentland Ferries to receive the same subsidy as NorthLink, he could provide the service for free and be a wealthy man.

It follows that, with reasonable subsidy, the effect of such an arrangement on transport costs would be dramatic, with the additional benefit of providing much-needed competition for NorthLink.

Those preferring to continue using the expensive route to Aberdeen could do so. However, people who need cheaper fares, don’t want expensive overnight accommodation and don’t mind some extra driving, would benefit greatly from the shorter crossing, as would industries like agriculture, fish and tourism.

John Tulloch
Lyndon,
Arrochar.

Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to editorial@shetlandtimes.co.uk for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.