VIDEO: Kirkcaldy to Edinburgh hovercraft hopes sunk, claims councillor

© George McLuskie
A hovercraft leaves Kirkcaldy during the 2007 trial

Any hope of establishing a hovercraft link between Kirkcaldy and Edinburgh appears dead in the water.

Councillor Neil Crooks, the chairman of the Kirkcaldy Area Committee said Edinburgh City Council has expressed “no appetite” to establish a cross-Forth link between the two communities.

He was speaking about plans to redevelop the wider waterfront area of the Lang Toun, including the demolition of the former Stagecoach bus depot, where it has long been thought any hovercraft terminal would be situated.

However, a decade after a highly successful trial service operated between Kirkcaldy and Portobello, Mr Crooks said that any chance of a permanent service beginning appear to be sunk.

“The old Stagecoach garages have no future and we have been encouraging demolition for some time now,” he said.

“The site is still earmarked for the hovercraft terminal but there appears little chance of that becoming a reality as the Edinburgh City Council appear to have no appetite on their side of the Forth.”

During a trial service in the summer of 2007, 32,000 passengers crossed the Forth between Kirkcaldy and Portobello.

Stagecoach, which operated the service with funding from Sestran, was keen to carry the initiative forward and in 2008 pledged to invest more than £10 million in two craft, plus infrastructure.

The company argued a sea crossing
 was greener than using the Forth Road Bridge, while the trial proved demand existed.

Edinburgh City Council refused plans for a ramp for the craft, however, 
citing visual impact, noise and transport concerns.

At the time a Stagecoach 
spokesman said the decision had 
“killed off” the company’s plans, while its chairman Sir Brian Souter said he was “scunnered” by the decision.

Three years ago, a new company, Forthfast, hinted its interest in establishing a service across the Forth, however this too failed to materialise.

Edinburgh’s Transport and Environment Convener, councillor Lesley MacInnes, said: “The City of Edinburgh Council has carried out a number of studies and market testing with partners, including Fife Council, exploring the possibility of a cross Forth passenger service, both traditional ferry and hovercraft.

“To date no commercially viable service has been identified but we are happy to engage with any prospective operator.”