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18th November 2003

GENERAL CONSUMER COUNCIL STATEMENT ON PROPOSED REDUCTION IN SEACAT SERVICES

<p>Passenger watchdog, the General Consumer Council, today voiced concern over the possible reduction of Seacat’s Belfast to Troon ferry service.</p>

Northern Ireland passengers need reliable and frequent travel options to Great Britain and beyond for leisure and business purposes. Any reduction in service is damaging for passenger choice and for the local economy.

 

Alan Walker, Head of Consumer Affairs at the Consumer Council said:

 

“Any route reduction is concerning, especially at weekends when services are in greater demand. Although passengers have benefited from increased competition recently, we have also lost routes between Ballycastle and Campbelltown and Belfast and Heysham, so further route closures would be very worrying.

 

 “The last ten years have seen many improvements in ferry services between Northern Ireland and Scotland with the standard of ferries improving across all operators, while fares have remained relatively stable. In addition, the arrival of no frills airlines to Scotland and the north of England have increased choice for passengers.

 

 “Seacat need to provide passengers with clear and accurate and timely information on its plans for the route. In particular, those passengers who have booked in advance may be especially concerned.”

 

The General Consumer Council will continue to monitor the situation and any impact on passengers and fares.

 

ENDS

 

1. General Consumer Council media contact: Susie Brown, telephone, 028 9067 4807 or e-mail, susie.brown@gccni.org.uk

 

2. The General Consumer Council promotes and safeguards the interests of local consumers. It also undertakes research, gives advice and issues publications. It deals with individual complaints about passenger transport, coal, natural gas and electricity.

 

3. For more information, visit our website at www.gccni.org.uk

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