ACTION is to be taken against an Inverclyde ferry operator following a series of cancellations, the Tele can reveal.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) chiefs have confirmed they will sanction Clydelink, the operators of the Gourock-Kilcreggan service.

It comes after a catalogue of issues with the vessel in operation on the route, Island Princess, which have led to sailings being cancelled for a total of 10 days in the last three weeks.

Passengers have instead been faced with a 90-minute replacement bus journey instead of the 13-minute crossing.

SPT officials admit the service has been ‘very poor’ since renewing the contract with Clydelink earlier this year at a cost of £320,000.

In a strongly-worded statement, a spokesperson said: “As most members of the public have experienced, we also find it extremely difficult to communicate with this operator.

“This service is operated on the basis while being comparable to a bus service, to provide a socially necessary link, however that is against a fixed budget with the Gourock/Kilcreggan service competing with bus service requests from many communities across our local area.

“While a back-up vessel would be ideal and we have been encouraging the operator to pursue this, at this time there is no operator or vessel available.

“This contract was renewed in April of this year and we know the performance to date is very poor.

“We will be taking action against the operators and that will be advised in due course.”

SPT’s announcement comes after increasing pressure from passengers and politicians for action to be taken.

Gourock councillor Chris McEleny says the deal with Clydelink should be ripped up immediately.

He said: “The service has not been good enough since SPT awarded the contract.

“It’s not good enough to just blame the operator, SPT is equally to blame.

“SPT have failed to respond to my request to meet to discuss concerns with me and ferry passengers.

“It is clear that the vessel and its operator are not fit for purpose.

“It’s also clear that SPT is unable to successfully operate ferries.

“I will immediately contact SPT to demand that they step in now, cancel the current contract and secure a relief vessel to serve the route.”

The ferry was off for nine days a fortnight ago due to engine troubles and it was cancelled again earlier this week due to a ‘small’ technical issue which required yet another repair to the vessel.

It was also out of action for a week in June after Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) inspectors discovered 30 problems.

Clydelink declined to comment.