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NorthLink Ferries announcement

Published: 24 May 2018

Responding to the Minister’s statement about the future tendering of the NorthLink Ferries franchise, Serco’s Managing Director of NorthLink Ferries Stuart Garrett, said:

”Serco welcomes the decision by the Scottish Government that the Northlink Ferries franchise will be put out to competitive tender at the end of the current franchise period. 

“During the last six years Northlink Ferries has, under Serco’s management, delivered a lifeline service of high quality and reliability and has invested significantly, bringing a range of improvements and innovations to the vessels and the service.  As a result of these changes, we have seen an 8% increase in the number of passengers and 20% more vehicles carried since the start of the contract. The improvements that we have made to both the vessels and the on board offering over the past six years have made a real difference and 98% of passengers surveyed have rated their overall experience as positive.

“At the same time in the first four years of the contract, according to Audit Scotland the tax-payer subsidy reduced by 36% from £51.5m to £33.2m which represents a decrease from 67% to 51% of operating costs. 

“More than just a business, we view ourselves as a member of the local communities, serving key sectors within the Northern Isles economies. We work daily with local businesses and communities to deliver high quality scheduled passenger and freight services to the Northern Isles.”


  • 98% of customers rated their overall experience as positive
  • 8% increase in passengers since 2012
  • 1.7 million passengers transported since 2012
  • 20% increase in vehicles carried since 2012
  • 85% of food, laundry and other hotel operation services are from within a 50 mile radius of our operating ports
  • 5% increase in cabins booked since 2012


Audit Scotland said in its report of October 2017:

  • “Between July 2012 and June 2016 (four contract years), the annual amount of subsidy has decreased by 36 per cent, from £51.5 million to £33.2 million. The level of subsidy has decreased from 67 per cent to 51 per cent of operating costs.”