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Leaving Campbeltown
Leaving Campbeltown

The Background.

In an attempt to cut a very long story short......

Back in July 1997 a ferry service was launched between Campbeltown and the town of Ballycastle in Northern Ireland. It was seen as a desperately needed economic lifeline, opening the area up to through traffic and providing much needed additional trade opportunities. Bear in mind this was at a time when the Jaeger factory was still a major employer - things were economically better than they are now. Prior to the launch, a protracted selection process resulted in Sea Containers being awarded a three year contract to operate the route. Many at the time believed that the state owned Caledonian McBrayne would have been a more appropriate suitor but for whatever the reason, this was not to be.

There then followed three years of discontent whereby the service suffered at the hands of a less than enthusiastic operator. The commitment shown to make the route a success was extremely dubious -

  • The service only ran in the summer and even then had periods when the vessel was required elsewhere and didn't run at all
  • The timetable was generally published weeks before the start of that year's service
  • Advertising was ineffective
  • Sea Containers ability to answer timetable enquiries was continually called into question - I can personally vouch for this based on the emails I received.

The list goes on, but the end result was an uneconomical service which, at the end of the contracted period, Sea Containers decided not to renew. Unfortunately in true Sea Containers fashion they left the decision not to continue until March 2000, leaving the route without an operator and no chance of securing one for that year. Strangely Sea Containers withdrawal coincided with their launch of a lucrative operation from Troon on the Ayrshire coast to Northern Ireland.