BHT130 on the Firth of Forth (2007)
BHT130 leaving Portobello
(Picture supplied by Stagecoach)
In July 2007, the 'Solent Express' was charter to transport provider Stagecoach for a two weeks trial on a new passenger service
between Kirkcaldy and Portobello (Edinburgh) across the Firth of Forth in Scotland. The route used dramatically shortened the normal
journey time for the locals as the usual route was via the 'long way round' and across the Forth road or rail Bridges.
The 'Solent Express' and the Hovertravel team made the 520 nautical mile journey from the Solent to the Firth of Forth on 11th July. Refuelling stops were made along the way at Clacton on Sea in Essex and Bridlington in Yorkshire. The time taken was 13.5 hours giving an average speed of 38.5 knots (or in excess of 40 miles per hour).
The service started on Monday 16 July and used temporary matting as landing pads at each end of the service. The 9 mile route is about twice as long as the Ryde/Southsea route, and probably a bit more exposed to the weather - on the first day of service it met a Force 6 gale and two metre waves.
Over the two weeks, over 32,000 passengers were carried on 284 crossings. The 9 mile distance between Edinburgh and Kirkcaldy was scheduled to take 20 minutes, although shorter times were achieved (Stagecoach reported an average of 17 minutes). The trial was certainly popular, at times, the queue was such that people had to wait for 'the next craft'.
The trail finished on 28th July and the craft returned to the Solent.
Pictures below have been contributed by David Steane - all are copyright protected and may not be reproduced without authority.
Our thanks go to David for permission to reproduce his pictures and captions.
(Click on an image to get a larger version)