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Transport / Two extra Kirkwall calls added to NorthLink’s festive timetable

New figures also reveal that passenger numbers between March and November were down 71 per cent compared to last year

Photo: NorthLink Ferries

NORTHLINK is adding two Kirkwall stops to its festive schedule to support those looking to travel within the temporary restriction relaxation period at the end of the month.

The Aberdeen to Lerwick northbound sailing on 22 December will now call at Kirkwall, while the Lerwick to Aberdeen sailing on 27 December will also stop in Orkney.

Physical distancing measures remain in place on NorthLink services, with capacity set at 335 on MV Hjaltland and MV Hrossey.

Serco’s managing director of NorthLink Ferries Stuart Garrett said: “These additional calls will support families and friends looking to travel across the festive period and are in line with Scottish Government guidance.

“As always, we would advise anyone travelling to only do so if it is line with public health guidelines at the time.”

New travel figures, meanwhile, show that between 22 March and 30 November passenger numbers across all routes stood at 80,804.

This was a reduction of 71 per cent compared to the previous year.

In November passenger numbers totalled 7,410 – a drop of 54 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.

Car volumes were down 61 per cent between March and November compared to last year.

Freight, however, has remained relatively steady. Between March and November the figures only dipped by nine per cent year-on-year.

In November freight was up by four per cent compared to last year.

In autumn 2020, NorthLink Ferries carried 98,332 sheep and 8,754 cattle, representing an increase in sheep and a small decrease in cattle compared to 2019 figures.

Garrett said: “As we get closer to Christmas we continue to see reduced footfall but are heartened by the strengthening of passenger and car volumes which has continued throughout autumn.

“We’re particularly pleased to have been able to support another successful livestock season with freight volumes holding up particularly strongly throughout the crisis.

“With our 2021 booking system now open, we look forward to a return towards normality but in the meantime are continuing our cautious approach to service delivery.”