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More than 1,000 people were affected by ferry problems

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MORE than 1,000 people are thought to have so far been affected by technical problems currently plaguing the Manche Iles Express ferry company.

Sheep racing in Sark. Picture: Sue Daly

Earlier this month 300 people were left stranded in either Jersey or Normandy after both of the company’s vessels broke down during the busy Bastille Day weekend.

Engineers eventually managed to rectify the fault with its Victor Hugo boat and brought it back into service but efforts to repair the Granville vessel have so far proven unsuccessful, with crossings to last weekend’s Sark Sheep Racing Festival being cancelled.

The breakdowns follow a 2.6-million-euro project, completed over two years, to overhaul both vessels and an announcement that the company would operate a new inter-island ferry service between Jersey and Guernsey, underwritten by both island’s governments.

Speaking to radio station France Bleu, Jean Morin, vice-president of the La Manche region, which owns the business, said that his administration could launch legal action against the company contracted to do the work if it was found that it was not done correctly.

‘The Granville was overhauled less than two years ago and it was this year for the Victor Hugo,’ Mr Morin said.

‘On-board electronics, seats, portholes and exterior decks were all redone – all of which cost us 2.6 million euros.

‘We can expect, after such work, absolute reliability, but this is not the case. We are dismayed. It is even more annoying that we are in high season. If we find that there have been defects in the work done on the boats there will be an appeal and possibly prosecution.’

Speaking last weekend, Mr Morin added that engineers had been so far unable to locate a leak on the Granville and restarting crossings on the vessel was currently ‘out of the question’.

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‘We are continuing to look for where this problem is coming from,’ he said.

‘We did some extensive examinations and we did not find anything unusual. We do not know how water is getting into the engine oil.

‘As it stands, it is out of the question for us to resume sailing on Granville with 250 people on board.’

And the company is continuing to face complaints about the disruption from customers on social media.

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Juliane Klein said: ‘They cancelled the ferry without providing an alternative,’ she said.

‘I had to spend more than 100 extra pounds to get to Sark and still have no idea how to be able to go back to Jersey because they do not care and do not answer emails. Avoid them at all costs.’

And in a post on Twitter, Stocks Hotel in Sark said: ‘Lots of angry and disappointed #customers feeling badly let down by the non-operation of @Mancheiles to @Sark_Island this summer. #getyouracttogether.’

Manche Iles Express has been contacted for comment but had not responded at the time of publication.

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