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Transport / Isles politicians keen to see extra NorthLink sailing at start of summer holidays

NorthLink's Hjaltland. Photo: Nick McCaffrey

SHETLAND’s political representatives Beatrice Wishart MSP and Alistair Carmichael MP have written to Serco NorthLink Ferries calling on the operator to add an extra sailing at the start of the summer school holidays.

They want to see a single additional sailing from Lerwick to Aberdeen on Friday 28 June as people head away on holiday.

They cited an incident in summer 2022 where many travellers were seen lying across the floors of a busy north boat in the peak early-summer period following the cancellation of flights.

With capacity at peak times a recurring issue daytime sailings have previously been suggested by some, but they have been ruled out in the past by transport officials due to logistical challenges.

Wishart said: “The Northern Isles ferry route is our lifeline service but has known annual ‘pinch points’ so we should find ways to mitigate them.

“We are calling for one additional sailing when the schools break up to alleviate travel pressure.

“What can be forgotten is that the Lerwick to Aberdeen journey is often just the first part of onward travel whether driving further south, or taking the train to get a flight abroad from Glasgow or further afield.

“Extra capacity at this critical time will ensure the best start for the hundreds of people setting off on their annual break.”

Carmichael added: “Serco Northlink are seeking to improve their reputation in the isles then this seems like a no-brainer all round.

“The pictures we saw two years ago, of people crammed on the floors of the vessel due to overcrowding at the summer peak period, were far from what you would expect of a modern transport service. The issue is entirely predictable and can be avoided.

“This is a lifeline service which receives large amounts of public money. It should absolutely be in Northlink’s interest to make a small concession and give a boost to the service for the start of the summer.”

In their letter to NorthLink the politicians stressed the request was for one day only.

NorthLink has been contacted for a response.

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