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Condor Ferries' latest disruption is 'unacceptable' and review of service must be launched, says minister

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ECONOMIC Development Minister Lyndon Farnham has launched an urgent review of the service agreement between the States and Condor following 'unacceptable' disruption during a peak travel month.

He made the comments in a letter sent to States Members on Friday evening, which followed a statement on Friday afternoon from the ferry operator announcing that the Liberation was experiencing technical problems and that a revised schedule would operate this weekend.

With the Clipper in dry dock for maintenance, the situation has prompted the strongest public ministerial statement for some time about the service being offered by Condor.

Senator Farnham said: 'You may be aware of operational problems that have arisen again with the Condor Liberation in recent days. Whilst delays and cancellations earlier in the week were weather-related, today's cancellations are as a result of technical problems with the vessel.'

He added: 'Clearly the situation is unacceptable. Whilst Condor have instigated an element of contingency, the disruption to car and passenger services during what is a busy month for visitors' and residents' travel to and from the UK has been significant.

'I also wanted to let Members know that I am examining the operating agreement signed with Condor in early 2014 to establish what remedies the States may have.

'As a minimum, in consultation with Guernsey's Commerce and Employment Minister, I will insist that the Comprehensive Service Review, aimed at defining the medium to long term make-up of car, passenger and freight services, scheduled for completion in early 2017, is advanced and should commence with immediate effect.'

On Friday afternoon, Condor announced that a fault in the exhaust system of the Condor Liberation had resulted in cancellations and delays on Friday with more disruption expected this weekend.

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The fault meant that sailings between Jersey, Guernsey and Poole were cancelled on Friday morning while last night's evening rotation operated on a slower speed.

This meant that the Liberation did not come to Jersey on Friday, with the Condor Rapide covering the route to and from Guernsey, and weekend sailings were scheduled to operate on a modified timetable. It is not known how long it will take to complete the repairs.

Condor say that the majority of passengers would be able to reach their destination despite the ongoing repairs.

Alicia Andrews, executive commercial director at Condor, said: 'We'd like to apologise to all of our passengers who are affected by this disruption to Condor Liberation's sailings.

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'Our engineers, port teams and support staff are working around the clock to minimise disruption to passengers.

'Repairs are in progress and we are able to maintain a timetable that will ensure that the overwhelming majority of our customers can reach their destinations. I'd like to thank our staff and ferry crews who are working extra hours this weekend.'

Engineers worked on the fault overnight on Thursday, while extra staff were called in to cover the phone lines on Friday.

Read more in Monday's JEP.

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