Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Ayrshire, Antrim, Argyll Ferry Link

Interesting news for many GTS members who have already used the services of the Kintyre Express over the past years with news of a new passenger ferry restoring the link between Kintyre and Northern Ireland after a 10-year gap which will also sail regularly to Ayrshire. 
Boats will operate return trips from Campbeltown to Ballycastle in Antrim four days a week from May, and between Campbeltown and Troon three days a week.

There is enthusiasm for the 12-passenger fast-ferry service unveiled by Kintyre Express, an arm of family owned Campbeltown-based bus company West Coast Motors.

It already has one 35ft rigid inflatable boat, with a centrally heated and fully enclosed cabin, and another is due to be delivered in March. They will take 90 minutes to cross to Antrim (single £30, return £55) and 75 minutes to Troon (prices still to be confirmed).

The ferries will make two return trips to Ballycastle in Antrim on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, and two return trips to Troon on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Colin Craig, managing director, said: “When we acquired the Kintyre Express from the previous operator in Ayrshire, who had concentrated on hire and charter work, we considered running trips to the likes of Oban and Tobermory and even did some trial runs. But there is such a demand here in Kintyre for the restoration of the link to Northern Ireland, we decided to think again.

“We recognised that in the current economic climate there was little or no chance of a public subsidy for a traditional ferry. We really saw this as the last chance to establish whether or not there was a market for a passenger ser-vice at least between Campbeltown and Ballycastle, one with a focus on tourism.

“There have been so many studies on the viability of a ferry service between Campbeltown and Ballycastle in the past 10 years, that everybody here is fed up with them. We just thought we are going to give it a go.”

Mr Craig said there was great scope for golfing holidays based around the ferry service. There was the celebrated new Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club, and also Dunaverty, Carradale, and Tarbert on the Kintyre penin- sula, and the course on the island of Gigha.

He added: “The link to Ayrshire also offers Royal Troon and Turnberry, not to mention Prestwick.”

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