PRESSURE is mounting on ferry operators to repair a faulty Gourock linkspan which has been out of action for nearly a month.

Port Glasgow-based Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) - the Scottish Government-owned company responsible for vessels and harbours in the west of Scotland - shut the pierhead gangway on September 17 because of ongoing problems with the hydraulic lifting cylinders.

It is now having a knock-on effect to wider CalMac services.

Both linkspans at Ardrossan were recently out of action, meaning vehicles could not be accommodated on sailings to Brodick in Arran - one of Scotland's busiest crossings.

Gourock is the back-up relief port for CalMac's Arran sailings but it couldn't be used either because of the broken linkspan.

A spokesperson for CMAL, which is responsible for the gangway at pierhead, said: "We took the decision to close the linkspan at Gourock on September 17 due to an ongoing technical issue with one of the hydraulic lifting cylinders, which could've prevented the cylinder from safely lifting the linkspan.

"We've attempted to repair the hydraulic cylinder by changing the seals.

"However, following ongoing issues and a site visit by an external specialist engineer, it's clear the cylinder is beyond repair and must be removed and replaced.

"We've sourced a cylinder, however, it needs to be fully tested and certified before it can be installed. "We expect installation by specialist contractors will take a matter of weeks.

"We're aware of the inconvenience this is causing for ferry passengers, and we're doing all we can to expedite matters. "However, health and safety, as well as environmental concerns, mean we must keep the linkspan out of operation until the issue is resolved."

CalMac chiefs have bene pushing CMAL to carry out urgent repairs.

A spokesman for the company said: "With a failure of the linkspan at Ardrossan and the linkspan at the normal port of refuge, Gourock, also out of action, we had to look at other arrangements to continue to provide a vehicle and passenger service to Brodick.

"Although these technical failures are out with CalMac's control we've tried hard to minimise disruption to passengers as much as possible."