NorthLink service heavily criticised in council report

By Adrian Darbyshire

“Unacceptable” performance standards on the lifeline Northern Isles ferry service could trigger economic stagnation and decline.

That is the hard-hitting criticism of NorthLink’s service in an update to Shetland Islands Council’s risk register.

NorthLink Ferries, which has run the Aberdeen-Orkney-Shetland route for 20 years, was re-awarded the contract by Transport Scotland
in March 2020.

But restrictions on passenger and freight capacity have been causing major headaches for businesses and the travelling public.

In the risk register the council’s head of transport Michael Craigie pulls no punches in his verdict on the service.

He states: “The specification for the service does not meet even the short term economic and social needs of Shetland as they were prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If this position of inadequate service performance is sustained for any significant period of time, then the growing constraints will ultimately have serious impacts on important economic sectors such as aquaculture, fishing, engineering and fabrication, construction and tourism as well as social impacts such is increased isolation making Shetland a less attractive place to live, work, study and invest.”

He adds: “The contracted service does not meet the needs of Shetland, can’t support the economic growth of Shetland and could trigger economic stagnation and decline.

At today’s [Wednesday’s] full council, Shetland North councillor Tom Morton described the risk register’s comments as “remarkably terse”.


Add Your Comment
  • Gordon Downing

    • June 9th, 2022 10:06

    What are the council going to do about it. One thing to condem Northlink,but how about actually doing something about the issue. After all we voted the councillors in.So they should be doing something for the community

  • James Drennan

    • June 9th, 2022 20:10

    It was partly, and I mean partly, the reason Smyril Line pulled the plug on their stopover in Lerwick. I believe it was P&O providing the link at the time and their refusal to allow Smyril Line the facility to offer through bookings to the to the mainland caused many would be passengers difficulties in juggling two seperate but connecting routes.

  • Hamish Tulloch

    • June 9th, 2022 20:44

    Travelled for first time 2 weeks ago from Aberdeen to Lerwick and the return 6 days later on both vessels. Frankly I was very satisfied as the handling crew dealt with the motorcycle were very proficient, the cabin was clean and functional and the catering was excellent especially the breakfast. As to costs and value for money I’ve no comparison but overall pleasantly satisfied with the service.

  • Janet Ritchie

    • June 9th, 2022 21:42

    We thought the sevice and accomodation on the Ferry was very good , to Shetland , then onwards to Orkney , end of May .22 .

  • Andy Burns

    • June 11th, 2022 23:35

    What more is required? Travelled many times to fish and the current service is fantastic! Going overnight is brilliant, can’t imagine doing a 14 hour day crossing!


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