Ferry Business - Autumn/Winter 2022

9 5 subsidised services. Frustrated islanders have even drawn on some energetic excavations on the Norwegian coast to suggest that some of the islands ought to be linked by tunnels. Those running ferry services for people who have few alternative transport choices are often accused of providing the very minimum service that they can get away with, or that parsimonious governments are able to afford. However, there is a strong case for regarding a ferry service not merely as a means of transport across a patch of water, but also as a way of growing value on both sides of the link. This was perhaps better understood in the past than it is today – one can easily think of towns, even cities, that originally prospered because of the ferries that connected them. Early in summer 2022 there was an interesting conference held on Scotland’s River Clyde about the provision of suitable ferries for the coastal communities that have been complaining about the standard of their shipping services. It focused on ship design, with a delegation from Australia sharing their enthusiasm for multi-hulled ships, as well as the need to revitalise domestic shipbuilding which has been languishing since the well-publicised travails of the Ferguson shipyard first hit the headlines. Why should it be necessary for ferry operators to go all over the world for suitable ships, when the Clyde was once a byword for shipbuilding? With a substantial fleet that needs replacement and modernisation, is there not an obvious demand for the re-establishment of a centre of ferry building excellence? Some of this is probably speculative and even fanciful, as it has been traditionally almost impossible to restart commercial shipbuilding in any area once the grass has grown on the launching ways and the skills dispersed. But it was suggested, that if we regard a ferry link as an agent for added value, maybe the attitude to marine transport investment might become more positive. Citing an example in South Australia, where a poor and subsidised ferry to one of the offshore islands had staggered on for years, it was noted that the provision of a modern, efficient and unsubsidised shipping link that offered multiple sailings per day had revolutionised life for those who had previously suffered poor service. The population had grown apace because it was feasible to live, work and even commute where it had previously been impossible as a result of the improvements. It was suggested as an example which could be followed in the Hebrides, where better ships might bring their own reward – in multiple ways. CFR SeaLink’s Spirit of Kangaroo Island now provides commuter links and encourages more visitors to the Australian island