Rail link not ferry good

Ferry and train at Wemyss Bay.
Ferry and train at Wemyss Bay.

Frustration has been voiced regarding the rail link via Scot rail to Wemyss Bay and the onward journey to Bute via the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry.

Construction worker Billy Tipping (55) from Rothesay, spoke of his concern about a “lack of joined-up thinking” after taking a Saturday journey from Glasgow to Wemyss Bay for the 5.30pm ferry to Bute. His train arrived on time at 5.25pm allowing Billy and his fellow passengers time to catch the ferry, or so he thought. He was then told that the ferry was closed at 5.27pm to ensure a 5.30pm departure.

Wemyss Bay Ferry Terminal and train station.

Wemyss Bay Ferry Terminal and train station.

He said: “That means passengers only have two minutes to disembark the train and make their way down the ramp. I couldn’t believe it.

“Surely a five minute schedule adjustment would resolve this train link issue.

“I was told it was the captain’s discretion to wait but the train wasn’t late. I know it’s happened in the past when a train is late, never when it’s on time. This shouldn’t happen.

“Everybody on the island knows about it. It’s a crazy situation. It’s bad enough for the people on the island but if you are a tourist coming here are you going to come back?

“It’s quite a serious issue that could easily be resolved.”

A CalMac spokesman said: “We are sorry to hear of this customer’s experience. Such is the frequency of service on this route, any delay, however small, simply creates a knock on effect for passengers on later services. In this instance a five minute delay to allow passengers alighting from the train would mean that the return service would be five minutes late, meaning passengers would miss the 6.56pm connection to Glasgow.

“Improving connection times between ferry and rail timetables at Wemyss Bay has always been an aspiration for CalMac and we have presented Bute Community Council with several options to try and address this issue in time for the winter 2018/19 timetable.”

A ScotRail Alliance spokesman said: “While we aren’t responsible for how CalMac operates its services, we do work very closely with the company to support customers. We will raise any specific issues at Wemyss Bay with CalMac at our next meeting with the firm.”

A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “Transport Scotland encourages operators to work together to coordinate rail and ferry timetables as far as possible, while taking into consideration how this fits into the overall daily route/service plans.”