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Yell ferries back on

FERRY services across Shetland’s Yell Sound were re-instated on Monday afternoon after council engineers worked flat out to repair a linkspan at Toft that collapsed last Wednesday.

Management breathed a sigh of relief when the repairs were completed as the break down had caused major disruption to traffic between Shetland mainland and the north isles of Yell, Unst and Fetlar.

For five days an emergency timetable operated by three smaller vessels between Ulsta, on Yell, and Vidlin had been in place.

The journey time had been increased threefold to an hour and restrictions in capacity meant that hauliers carrying white fish and farmed salmon and delivery vans had to be given priority.

Shortly before 5pm on Monday engineers gave the green light for the ramp at the Toft terminal to open again.

Shetland Islands Council head of transport Michael Craigie said the department would operate an “ad-hoc timetable” to catch up before reverting back to normal schedule.

“All services will now run from Toft for the rest of the evening and on Tuesday it will be the normal timetable again,” he said.

The service will now be operated by Daggri and the relief ferry Fivla, while the second Yell ferry Dagalien undergoes her annual refit.

The Fivla was trapped for two hours last Wednesday when a large metal plate disconnected from the linkspan due to a combination of exceptionally low tide and the ferry being lower in the water than the larger vessels the terminal was designed for.

Mr Craigie said a full investigation is under way to understand exactly why the hinges in the ramp had been unable to cope with the low tide.

He said the disruption to services to the north isles had brought into focus the importance of a ferry service that meets the requirements of the island communities.

He said a business continuity plan to deal with significant events was in place, but its implementation depended on the circumstances.

“We have managed to keep everything going, obviously with disruptions,” he said.

Councillor Josie Simpson said he wanted to express his thanks for the work and commitment from ferry staff.