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Transport / Hope for NorthLink bookings to open up again in near future

NorthLink passenger ferry Hjaltland arriving at Lerwick Harbour. Photo: Shetland News

NORTHLINK ferry bookings could open up into spring and beyond before the end of the year, according to Transport Scotland’s head of ferries.

Chris Wilcock told a meeting of Shetland’s external transport forum this afternoon (Tuesday) that officials were working to open up bookings as soon as possible.

There is continued frustration that NorthLink longer term bookings cannot open up until government agency Transport Scotland set fare prices.

At the moment people cannot book beyond the end of March.

But when asked by Councillor Arwed Wenger at Tuesday’s meeting if bookings could be ready to open up before the end of the year, Wilcock said this was his hope.

Earlier today Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart also spoke out on the issue amid frustration on a lack of update from the Scottish Government.

“As we approach Christmas families will be getting together and making plans for later next year,” she said.

“But this will be scuppered by the Scottish Government’s delay in opening the booking system which currently doesn’t go beyond the end of the Easter holidays.”

She added: “A rolling system of bookings is needed to stop these ‘cliff edges’.

“Passengers can currently book to leave the islands at the start of school holidays and the Easter weekend but not to return once it ends.

“Islanders need flexibility on their lifeline service to travel out of Shetland and this was evident in responses to my survey earlier in the year.”

Meanwhile it was revealed earlier that an idea from a Shetland software developer has resulted in NorthLink introducing an upgraded online booking system.

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