Tuesday 2 June, 2020
FERRY SERVICE is not running until further notice.  Please see NEWS page for updates

28 May 2020 - Sandbanks Ferry announces return to service following lockdown

The Sandbanks chain ferry is scheduled to resume service on Wednesday 17 June. The service is planned to commence at 07:00 hours from Sandbanks, with 3 crossings per hour in each direction as usual until 23:10 hours from Studland.

The Government-directed ‘lockdown’ in response to the coronavirus health crisis led to a significant reduction in ferry passenger numbers resulting in the need for the service to be temporarily withdrawn. However, in line with the Government’s announcement that shops and businesses can begin reopening from Monday 15 June, passenger numbers are expected to increase to economically and environmentally viable levels as a result.

In addition, the Company is also able to confirm that all refit and maintenance works previously scheduled for November 2020 are being carried out during this outage in full compliance with health and safety regulations. This means that the scheduled refit for November 2020 will now not be required.

Mike Kean, Managing Director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, said: “We are very pleased to announce the scheduled return to service of the Sandbanks chain ferry. The decision to withdraw the service was not taken lightly, but we are glad to have used this time to carry out work which means the scheduled refit in November is no longer needed. We hope that this is welcome news for local commuters and businesses as they recover, as we do, from this nationwide lockdown.”

The Sandbanks chain ferry has also procured sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) for all staff members to use once the ferry returns. All staff have been trained on how to effectively use it and maintain social distancing whilst working.

Upon return to service, the ferry will only be accepting motorised vehicles until further notice. All drivers & passengers will be asked to remain inside their vehicles and motorcyclists on their bikes. Initially, to support social distancing while queuing for the ferry, foot passengers and cyclists will not be carried. Further information about when foot passengers and cyclists will be able to use the ferry, and the guidelines that will be in place to enable this, will be announced in due course.

Mike Kean added: “While I know this service suspension has been difficult for many, our priorities now are to reassure passengers that they can use the ferry again safely and protect our staff whilst doing their jobs.

“I would also like to pay tribute to the entire team who have continued to work tirelessly over recent weeks to get the ferry ready to return to service in a safe way, and to carry out this years’ refit works ahead of schedule.”

Details of the ferry timetable can be found at: http://www.sandbanksferry.co.uk/timetable.php.

As the resumption of the service comes closer, any additional updates will be announced on the Twitter feed at @sandbanksferry and on the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sandbanksferry.

PRESS RELEASE – 15 May 2020

Sandbanks Ferry uses lockdown service suspension to carry out refit works ahead of schedule

The Sandbanks Ferry Company suspended its service on 21st April as a result of the Government-directed lockdown. The lockdown resulted in a dramatic reduction in passenger numbers throughout April, finally reaching on average less than 2 cars per hour before the decision was made to withdraw the service for environmental and economic reasons.

The ferry company can now confirm that the service withdrawal period will be used to carry out all mandatory maintenance and refit work ahead of schedule while complying with social distancing guidelines. This means that the ferry will no longer need to be withdrawn from service in November for its regular biennial refit and maintenance schedule.

Whilst out of service, the ferry has been moored in Poole Harbour to carry out these works and keep the ferry safe whilst unmanned. However, in the early hours of Friday 8th May, a large piece of concrete unexpectedly detached from the fixed jetty and fell into the ferry. The ferry was not directly attached to or connected with this piece of concrete, but it has resulted in a small but significant amount of damage to the hull. At least one of the main prow hinge fixings is cracked and will need repair using a platform and scaffolding fixed to the deck of the ferry.

As a result, the ferry’s return to service has been delayed until at least the beginning of June whilst this unexpected repair work is carried out, and we await Lloyd’s safety surveyor’s approval. More information on the exact date for the return to service, and social distancing measures for staff & customers alike, will be announced in due course.

Commenting, Mike Kean, Managing Director of The Sandbanks Ferry Company said: “We were very disappointed to have to withdraw the service during this public health crisis. However, we are pleased to be able to carry out the November refit and maintenance work ahead of schedule. This will mean less disruption for businesses and residents in the busy run up to Christmas this year, which I hope will be welcome news.”

“The damage sustained by the jetty malfunction is incredibly frustrating, when we were expecting to return to service as soon as traffic volumes were back at a sustainable level. We are doing all we can, working with our contractors and suppliers, to get this rectified as soon as possible. Social distancing guidelines must continue to be adhered to, so we once again ask our customers for their patience while we carry out these unforeseen repair works under difficult conditions.”

PRESS RELEASE 17th April 2020


Service withdrawn following Government announcement on continued COVID-19 ‘lockdown’

The Sandbanks Ferry Company, which runs the chain ferry service between Studland and Poole, has announced that it will be withdrawing the service from Tuesday 21st April until further notice.

The Government-directed ‘lockdown’ in response to the current coronavirus health crisis has led to a significant reduction in ferry passenger numbers. It was announced on Thursday 16th April that this ‘lockdown’ would continue for at least three further weeks. As a result, it is no longer economically or environmentally viable to continue to run the ferry service during the coronavirus crisis.

The final crossing will be the 19.10 from Studland on Monday 20th April. Timings on the return of the ferry service will be provided in due course.

Mike Kean, Managing Director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, said: “It is with great sadness that we have had to make the decision to withdraw the ferry service. We have been tirelessly exploring all avenues over recent weeks to try to secure financial support from central Government through this unprecedented time, but this has not been forthcoming, and we have had to make the very difficult decision today to withdraw the service. We were prepared to continue to operate at a financial loss to support key workers, but without greater support, this is no longer possible.

“While I know this will be difficult for the small number of key workers that are still using the service to get to work, I hope they will understand why this decision has been taken. We would like to thank them, and Dorset Council, for their support and understanding through this difficult time.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to our staff who have worked fearlessly over the last month in jobs that by their nature involve close contact with colleagues and customers alike.”

While the ferry is out of service, maintenance work will be carried out that where possible is intended to reduce the amount of time needed for the ferry refit later this year in November.

Mike Kean added: “We will continue to closely monitor the current situation and look at ways to return the ferry to service as soon as possible, when we look forward to welcoming our passengers back once it is safe for them and our staff to do so.”

Monday 13th April 2020


From tomorrow, Tuesday 14th April, for the foreseeable future, the ferry service will now finish daily at 7.10pm.

The final ferry from Sandbanks will be at 7.00pm and from Studland at 7.10pm.

We’ll still be open from 7am everyday and will continue to operate 3 trips per hour as normal throughout the day.

Monday 23 March 2020


Service closed to foot traffic, bicycles and motorcycles to support Government directive on non-essential travel and social distancing

The Sandbanks Ferry Company, which runs the chain ferry service between Studland and Poole, has announced that it will be temporarily withdrawing its service to foot passengers, bicycles & motorcycles.

From close of business Monday 23rd March 2020 until further notice, the ferry will only carry cars, buses, goods vehicles and emergency vehicles.

The change in service has been introduced in response to the current coronavirus health crisis to support social distancing guidance. This move is in addition to previous advice given by the ferry company to passengers to be mindful of maintaining distance and to observe hygiene precautions when travelling.

Mike Kean, Managing Director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, said: “Our immediate priority is to take steps to maintain a regular ferry service for those who will depend upon it in the coming days and weeks, such as emergency vehicles, key workers and delivery vehicles.

“We fully support the Government advice on avoiding non- essential travel, and believe that closing our doors temporarily to foot passengers and cyclists – nearly all of which are leisure-related – will help to limit the exposure of our staff to infection and in turn keep the ferry service operating to our regular schedule.”

The ferry company also reinforced its advice to motorised traffic to consider social distancing when travelling aboard the ferry. Mike Kean added: “We are requesting that passengers remain in their vehicles during the crossing in order to help maintain a suitable distance between themselves, staff and other passengers. There is no need to get out of your vehicle during the short crossing, so we strongly urge passengers to stay in their vehicles unless absolutely necessary.

“Furthermore, in an effort to limit the spread of any disease it would be helpful if our customers could use contactless payments cards wherever possible rather than cash.”

Mike Kean summarised: “We will continue to closely monitor Government advice and look at ways to protect the operation of the ferry service. We hope that our foot and bike passengers understand and appreciate the reasons for making this decision, and we look forward to welcoming them back in the very near future.”

Thursday 19th March - COVID-19 (Coronoavirus) In light of the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak, it’s more important than ever that we all acknowledge our part to play in keeping our communities safe and well.

At the Sandbanks Ferry Company, we’re committed to minimising the risk of infection for both staff and passengers. We’ve already implemented enhanced hygiene processes throughout our teams, including the wearing of gloves for those who handle cash, regular hand washing breaks, and the provision of sanitisers.

We’d like to ask you, our passengers, for your help to keep the ferry a safe and clean environment in which to travel. You can help minimise the risk of infection by adopting the following simple steps:
• Keep tickets and cash away from your mouth, as this presents a hygiene issue for our toll collectors
• Please remain seated in your vehicle throughout the short crossing
• If travelling on foot or on bike, please be mindful of social distancing between you and other passengers wherever possible
• If you are feeling unwell or have recently been in close contact with someone presenting with symptoms, we ask you to follow the Public Health England (PHE) guidelines and remain at home

Thank you from all of us at the Sandbanks Ferry Company for your co-operation and support during this time. By putting these measures in place, we hope to avoid any impact on our service due to staff shortages – as well as helping to protect everyone who travel with us.

We look forward to seeing you aboard the Bramble Bush Bay very soon.

PRESS RELEASE 09 March 2020

Sandbanks Ferry Company announces toll increase application

  • Proposed year on year enhancement of bulk purchase discount levels
  • Proposed single trip toll increases less than half the rate of inflation since the last review
  • Future single trip toll increases capped annually at the rate of inflation

The Sandbanks Ferry Company has made an application to the Secretary of State for Transport to increase the Maximum Tolls Chargeable amounts, which were last approved under a Toll Revision Order in February 2015.

The proposed cash tolls, or single trip ticket prices, are between a 5% to 5.56% increase on the last approved Maximum Tolls Chargeable amounts. This represents an increase of less than half the rate of inflation since that point in time.

The application also proposes freezing the discount level of bulk purchase tickets at the current level until at least 2021. Bulk purchase tickets, which are available to buy in multiples between 10 and 50, are proposed to remain unchanged until they reach 26%-30% less than single trip tickets. Bulk purchases, which are now managed via online purchasing, are primarily used by local residents and commuters and are currently discounted between only 10- 24% of cash toll prices.

Toll increases are an important part of the Ferry Company’s prudent financial management and in securing the future safe and reliable running of the current vessel, the Bramble Bush Bay. Alongside increases in efficiency, cost savings and the commitment from the Directors not to pay dividends to the owners until a ferry replacement fund is topped up annually, sound financial planning also ensures that a replacement ferry can be purchased when it is judged necessary by the Company’s Naval Architects.

Mike Kean, Managing Director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, said: "We have held detailed discussions over the past 12 months with local residents, councillors and MPs and have incorporated their feedback into the application proposals. These include increasing the discounts applied to bulk purchase of tickets and pledging not to pay dividends until the Ferry Replacement Fund is at the required level in any given year. We are incredibly grateful for their time and input."

Mike Kean added: "Toll increases are a necessary part of the mix in ensuring that our vital service to local businesses, residents and tourists is maintained long into the future, and we look forward to the application progressing over the coming months."

The Sandbanks Ferry Company has recently established a Community Liaison Group with representatives from the Studland, Swanage, Purbeck and Sandbanks communities and Councils. The Community Liaison Group will be a forum for the Ferry Company to inform them about the ferry’s ongoing performance and the Company’s future plans. Group members will be able to provide their feedback on these issues going forward. The Group held its first meeting on 10 th January 2020 and a second meeting on 31 st January 2020.

The Department for Transport and the Ferry Company will publish further details of the application consultation in due course.

THE Sandbanks Ferry Ticket Card (SFTC) IS
LAUNCHING ON Tuesday 4th February 2020

The new Sandbanks Ferry Ticket Card (SFTC) will be launching on Tuesday 4th February 2020. This will be the new way to buy books of tickets, which will be called PASSES. Passengers will still be able to pay by cash at the Toll Box for individual crossings.


The SFTC enables you to purchase Passes online without pre-ordering at the Toll Boxes or visiting the Ferry Office – making it quicker and easier than ever before to manage your ferry travel.

1. Pick up an SFTC at the Toll Box, free of charge. These will be available to collect from the day we launch. You will need this card to buy passes once the online system has launched.

2. Create an online pre-payment account; the link to create your account will be published on the ferry website (sandbanksferry.co.uk) and social channels as soon as the system is live.

3. Register your card to your pre-payment account. Please note that you can only register one card to each account. If you need more than one card, you’ll need to register a separate pre-payment account for each additional card.

4. Securely purchase your passes online once you have created a pre-payment account and registered your card to it.

5. Each time you travel, present your card at the Toll Box. A pass will automatically be debited from your pre- payment account.

Here are some important things you’ll need to know:

1. Passes are valid for 2 years from the purchase date, are non-refundable and non-transferable. Passes are used in the order they are purchased.

2. You can also purchase passes at the Toll Boxes (as well as online) which will be added to your pre-payment account. To do so, you’ll need to register your card online first and bring it to the Toll Box.

3. As with bulk tickets currently, you can buy batches of 10 or 50 passes for a car, van, HGV or coach. Passes will not initially be available for bikes or foot passengers.

4. Please try not to store your card with your mobile phone, as the magnetic strip may be damaged and cause the card to stop working.

5. At any point, you will be able to check how many passes you have left and their expiry dates through your online account.

6. If you do not have enough passes on your card when you present it at the Toll Box, you can pay the standard toll price for travel or buy some more passes to add to your pre-payment account.

7. If your card is lost, stolen or damaged, you can pick up a replacement card at the Ferry Office for free. There is an admin charge of £5 (Inc. VAT) to transfer any unused passes to your new card.

8. If your card is lost or stolen, please email us on lostcard@sandbanksferry.co.uk with your name and card number us as soon as possible so that we can block your card from future use.

9. Paper book tickets will only continue to be available for a short time once the SFTC is launched. If you do not have internet access and are unable to get a family member or friend to register an SFTC for you, please visit the Ferry Office where we can do it for you.

PRESS RELEASE - 12 December 2019



The Sandbanks Ferry Company will be offering free travel to all passengers on Christmas Day this year.

The Christmas Day ferry service will run half-hourly from 08:00 hours until 18:10 hours, leaving Sandbanks on the hour and half hour, and from Shell Bay at 10 and 40 minutes past the hour.

All types of passengers will be able to enjoy free travel on the 25th December, including foot, car, bicycle and goods vehicles.

Should passengers wish to donate their toll fee to the Company’s nominated charity for the coming year, Forest Holme Hospice in Poole, they will be able to do so via collection boxes on board the ferry.

During the rest of the holiday period, the Sandbanks Ferry will operate a normal service timetable from 7am to 11.10pm. Further timetable information can be found at: www.sandbanksferry.co.uk/timetable.php.

Visit the Sandbanks Ferry Company at www.sandbanksferry.co.uk , on Twitter at @sandbanksferry and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sandbanksferry.

During the Ferry suspension we offered a refund to anyone who had purchased tickets in advance for this period. Now that normal service has resumed and we have a double discount promotion running until the end of November, the refund offer has now closed

Update - 31st October 2019

Today sees the long-awaited return of the ferry to service.

Thank you all for your patience and support over the last few months while we’ve been working hard to manage the repair process. We’re looking forward to welcoming you back on board ‘The Bramble Bush Bay’.

Press release - 30 October 2019



The Sandbanks Ferry Company has officially announced the return of the chain ferry to full service, beginning on Thursday, 31 October 2019.

The service is planned to commence at 07:00 hours from Sandbanks, with 3 crossings per hour in each direction as usual until 23:10 hours from Studland.

In addition, the Company has announced the introduction of double discounts on all books of ferry tickets purchased between now and the end of November 2019.

Mike Kean, Managing Director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, said: “We are delighted to announce the return of the Sandbanks chain ferry to service on Thursday, October 31st at 07:00.

“We know that the lack of a ferry service has caused a difficult and frustrating summer for many residents of Studland, Swanage and Poole, as well as for local businesses and of course, for the Company and its employees. We’d like to extend our sincere apologies once again for the issues caused by the service suspension, and a heartfelt thank you for the support we’ve been shown by the local communities while the ferry has been out of service. Our staff and contractors have worked incredibly hard over the summer on the repairs in order to return the ferry to the passengers who rely on it.”

“We’re looking forward to welcoming friends old and new on board, and to recommencing a regular, safe and reliable service to the local community, as we have done for many years.”

Ordinarily, ticket discounts vary from 10% on a book of 50 tickets for foot passengers and cycles, to 24% on a book of 50 tickets for a car, light van or goods vehicle. These discounts will be doubled for every book purchased from 31st October to 30th November 2019, which are available to buy from the ferry office & toll boxes and to order from the ferry website as usual.

The chain ferry, which operates a route between Shell Bay in Studland and Sandbanks in Poole, experienced a broken driveshaft earlier this year – an unprecedented and prematurely early failure of a part which had been engineered to last the lifetime of the vessel. To expedite the repair, the Company paid an additional £46,000 to halve the lead time on a replacement component – and as a precautionary measure, replaced the second unaffected driveshaft assembly to minimise any risk of future loss in service.

Details on the ferry timetables can be found at: http://www.sandbanksferry.co.uk/timetable.php. Visit the Sandbanks Ferry Company at www.sandbanksferry.co.uk , on Twitter at @sandbanksferry and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sandbanksferry .

Update – Monday 28th October 2019

Thank you to everyone for the overwhelmingly positive support we’ve received today as the Bramble Bush Bay returned home - and an extra special thank you to all who turned out on a chilly morning to welcome her. Your continuing support is greatly appreciated.

She has now been put back on chains prior to completing several test crossings to remove the chain twists.

Tomorrow, we’ll be continuing with this and further drive system checks.

Update - Friday 25 October 2019
Another excellent day of progress to report – the ferry has passed its tow survey, with preparations now being made for its overnight return on Sunday. Weather permitting, we’ll be back in Dorset early on Monday morning, ready to be fitted back on the chains and undertake final testing.

Update – Thursday 24 October 2019
We’re delighted to report that the ferry passed today’s MCA safety inspection.

The final elements of the work are underway, ahead of tomorrow’s tow inspection.

Our tow back is sea condition restricted & scheduled to take place overnight this coming Sunday. Weather permitting, we’ll be back in Sandbanks early on Monday 28th October for final testing on the chains ready for our planned return to service by the end of the month.

Update - Wednesday 23 October 2019
Yesterday saw a successful day’s work with great progress made. Today, we’ve been installing the segments on the second wheel and completing the associated welding work, ready for their testing tomorrow and an MCA inspection.

Update - Tuesday 22 October 2019
Following yesterday’s work on fitting the shafts and couplings, today and tomorrow will see the fitting of the segments to the ferry’s drive wheels and the preparation of the ferry for MCA and insurance sign-off later this week, prior to the planned tow back to Dorset.

Update - Monday 21 October 2019
Work has been continuing throughout the weekend and today at the repair facility in Southampton. The engineer from the Swedish component manufacturer is on site to provide expert guidance during these final stages of the repair.

PRESS RELEASE 18 October 2019
Sandbanks Ferry on track for end of October return as final parts are fitted

The Sandbanks Chain Ferry is on course for its planned return to service at the end of October, as the final elements of the repair are completed, now that the hydraulic couplings have arrived from Sweden.

The ferry, which is currently in a repair facility in Southampton, is undergoing extensive checks and testing ahead of a Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) inspection next week, prior to being towed back to Dorset for several days of intensive testing on chains ahead of opening for service.

Mike Kean, Managing Director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, said: “We fully understand how frustrating and inconvenient the ferry service suspension has been to residents and businesses. That’s why, in addition to carrying out the required repairs, we have used this outage time to carry out many non-essential maintenance and replacement tasks, well ahead of their required schedule.

“We hope that this extensive programme of preventative works will offer our customers an additional layer of confidence that we have done everything possible to ensure that the ferry will offer a regular and reliable service in the years to come.”

Updates on the final aspects of the repairs, including information on the scheduled tow back from Southampton, will be posted each weekday on the Sandbanks Ferry Company’s Facebook, Twitter and website until the ferry is back in service. The planned date of service return is expected to be at the end of October, with exact information on the date of the service recommencement will be announced to the media and via the Company’s social channels in due course.

Mike Kean added, “We are truly thankful for the patience and support of our customers during this exceptional outage period. We are looking forward to returning the ‘Bramble Bush Bay’ to its rightful place as a vital transport link for the people of Studland, Swanage and Poole, and to restoring the trusted and reliable service which local residents have rightfully come to expect over many years.”

Visit the Sandbanks Ferry Company at www.sandbanksferry.co.uk , on Twitter at @sandbanksferry and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sandbanksferry .


When will the chain ferry be back in service?
The Sandbanks chain ferry (‘Bramble Bush Bay’) is anticipated to be back in service by the end of October 2019. Should this change for any reason, we will ensure the public and media are informed as soon as possible. As we get closer to the actual date further announcements will be made to keep everyone informed.

What caused the ferry to go out of service?
This was due to a drive shaft failure - an unprecedented issue which to our knowledge, has never occurred on any other ferry of this kind. This component is designed to last the lifetime of the ferry, however the part that joins the shaft to the drive wheel (a hydraulic coupling) was not reusable and had to be ordered in from Sweden, it was not amongst the many replacement parts we have in stock as no one ever expected we’d have to replace it. The ferry passed all its recent maintenance & safety inspections and therefore this breakdown could not have been foreseen or prevented.

Will my tickets still be valid when the ferry is back in service?
Yes, any unused tickets purchased before the service was suspended are still valid and can be used when the ferry is back in service. More generally, these pre-purchased book tickets don’t have an expiry date – they remain valid on the ferry indefinitely.

Can I obtain a refund for my unused tickets?
Yes, we will reimburse all customers who would like a refund for unused advance tickets they purchased in 2019 before the current outage. If you would like to claim a refund, please contact us via customercare@sandbanksferry.co.uk with your name, ticket serial numbers and the type of tickets you purchased, i.e. foot passenger/car/bike/HGV. We aim to respond to reimbursement requests within 48 hours and process refunds within 28 days.

What steps are the Sandbanks Ferry Co taking to return the service as soon as possible?
We are doing everything in our power to return the ferry to normal service as soon as we can. The replacement component needed was ordered as quickly as possible from the approved manufacturer in Sweden, where we paid an additional £46,000 to reduce the stated 24-week lead time by more than half.

Once we have received delivery of the hydraulic coupling, we will be working around the clock to carry out the repairs. Following this, the ferry will be tested in the Southampton ship repair facility and then towed back to Dorset as soon as possible depending on sea conditions for final testing and checks to ensure it is fully operational prior to returning to service.

Is the Sandbanks Ferry Co providing a replacement ferry while Bramble Bush Bay is out of service?
We have carried out extensive research to source a replacement chain ferry while Bramble Bush Bay is under repair. Unfortunately there are no suitable ferries available which are in a state of good repair or could be brought up to a safe and serviceable level.

As part of our research, we have explored the possibility of using a replacement vehicle ferry from Germany. Unfortunately, it was not feasible to progress these plans as while the craft met German safety standards, it did not comply with UK regulations.

Can the Sandbanks Ferry Co provide an alternative service while the chain ferry is under repair?
Since the ferry went out of service, we have been exploring several options for an interim foot passenger service. We have also spoken to many local businesses, local residents’ groups, councillors and MPs in an effort to find a viable alternative option to maintain a level of service while the ferry is under repair.

Although we haven’t yet found a viable solution which meets all the regulatory and safety requirements we are bound to, we are continuing to investigate all potential options as a priority.

Why can’t the Sandbanks Ferry Co provide a foot passenger service during this outage?
We have been investigating several options for an interim foot passenger ferry. All options require research and approvals across several different issues to ensure viability and passenger safety which is a lengthy process. Due to tidal conditions and the necessary landing infrastructure currently not being in place, e.g. a temporary jetty, it has not been possible to offer a safe foot passenger service in the short term. We are continuing to investigate options, but passenger safety will always be our top priority when considering any alternatives.

Is the company still paying dividends to its owners while the ferry is out of service?
No, dividends have not been paid by the company for over two years and are unlikely to be authorised for some while. Our policy is that dividends will not be paid in any given year before the required amount of funds have been transferred into the Motor Ferry Replacement Reserve (a ring-fenced reserve fund to finance a new ferry when Bramble Bush Bay comes to the end of its life in service) to ensure that we hit the target required to replace the existing vessel in the future.

What is the Sandbanks Ferry Company doing to prevent future breakdowns lasting as long?
The ferry has, and will continue to be, subject to regular detailed safety and mechanical inspections in order to ensure that it is fully maintained and meets stringent operational and safety criteria. The summer 2019 breakdown was an unprecedented and unforeseen failure of a part that was engineered to last the lifetime of the ferry without being replaced. We have taken the opportunity of this outage to again check as many moving & working parts of the vessel as possible following last year’s refit which will mean the next maintenance overhaul will not be until November 2020 and should only last a couple of weeks. We have also placed an order for spare hydraulic couplings in the unlikely event that they might be needed in the future.

Where can I find the latest information about the Sandbanks Ferry resuming normal service?
For the latest news and updates, please visit the Sandbanks Ferry website or Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also email customercare@sandbanksferry.co.uk.

Sandbanks Ferry Company says passenger safety must be a priority for any interim ferry plans

The Sandbanks Ferry Company has stated that passenger safety remains its primary consideration as the company continues to assess options for an interim service for whenever the chain ferry is out of action for sustained periods of time.

The Ferry Company has explored a variety of potential alternatives to maintain a level of service while the ferry is under repair. These have included investigating the temporary use of a replacement vehicle ferry from Germany. The Company was unable to progress these plans as while the vehicle ferry met German safety standards, it did not comply with UK regulations.

Other potential interim options have been presented by members of the local community, including the suggestion to partner with the Brownsea Island Ferry Company to run a service from a new temporary modular floating pontoon at Shell Bay in Studland to the existing Brownsea Island Ferry jetty in Sandbanks.

Mike Kean, Managing Director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, said: “We are very sorry for the impact this ferry suspension is currently having upon the local community, particularly in Studland and Swanage. We have been working tirelessly to investigate all potentially viable options until the chain ferry returns to service, including options put forward by the Studland community. We are looking carefully at the suggested plans to install a temporary pontoon at Shell Bay and are consulting with several external agencies to assess its viability.

“We are currently awaiting the outcome of an application to the Marine Management Organisation, which is needed to progress the plan. Our investigations so far have raised considerable concerns, including that the proposed pontoon may be unsafe in certain tidal conditions and in poor weather. Additionally, a temporary ferry service may be suspended at short notice should conditions change suddenly, running the risk of leaving passengers stranded.

“We cannot, and will not, compromise on passenger safety, which continues to be our number one priority as we progress these plans.”

The Sandbanks Ferry Company has met with members of the public from both Sandbanks and Studland to update concerned residents on the Company’s continuing efforts to identify a viable interim solution.

Mike Kean added: “I am very grateful for the continuing understanding of the public, especially those who have taken the time to suggest potential interim options. I would like to reassure local residents that we will continue to assess all potentially viable alternatives as a priority.”

The Sandbanks Ferry Company is in receipt of regular updates from the manufacturers of the chain ferry replacement parts, the last of which are scheduled to arrive at its ship repair facility in Southampton by mid-October. Reassembly works will commence immediately on a 24 hours a day basis, with the objective, weather permitting, to return the ferry to Poole by the end of October


Sandbanks Ferry Company meets with local MPs to discuss plans to return chain ferry to service

In light of local concerns over the suspension of the chain ferry service which links Sandbanks to Shell Bay in Studland, the operators of the Sandbanks Ferry recently met with local MPs to discuss the efforts being undertaken to bring the service back into operation as quickly as possible.

Richard Drax, Member of Parliament for South Dorset, and Robert Syms, Member of Parliament for Poole, visited the Sandbanks Ferry Company senior management team in the ferry office at Shell Bay, Studland. During the meeting, the MPs were presented with a detailed briefing of the current repair situation and the measures the ferry company has undertaken to investigate alternative options for customers while the ferry is out of service.

Richard Drax MP commented: “There is little doubt in my mind that this breakdown could not have been foreseen or prevented. I understand from the company that the driveshaft, made with specialist steel, is designed to last the lifetime of the ferry. I fully appreciate that both the ferry operator and local people and businesses are suffering at what is the busiest time of the year. Following my meeting, I am reassured that the company is doing all it reasonably can to get the ferry back in service, which is expected in October.”

Robert Syms MP added: “During the meeting with the Sandbanks Ferry Company, we discussed potential measures to offer an alternative car or foot passenger service while the ferry is under repair. I am satisfied that the ferry company has investigated all potential avenues and that at present, due to sea conditions and landing infrastructure, there are no viable alternatives which enable the company to operate a safe replacement vessel in the short term.”

Mike Kean, managing director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, said: “We are very grateful that Richard Drax and Robert Syms were able to meet with us. We were pleased to provide both Members of Parliament with assurances that we are doing everything in our power to return the ferry service as soon as possible.

“We wholly appreciate the frustrations and difficulties the ferry service suspension is causing to the local community, and so we are very grateful for the understanding and patience of our customers while we work through this issue. We will continue to work in close harmony with local businesses, residents and organisations as we focus on bringing the ferry service back into operation at the earliest possible opportunity.”





The Sandbanks Ferry Company has set out its plans to return the chain ferry to service during October 2019, including measures to reimburse customers who have paid for tickets in advance.

Mike Kean, Managing Director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, said: “I speak on behalf of the entire team at the Sandbanks Ferry Company when I express my regret that the chain ferry service has been unavoidably suspended from service.

“The failing of the drive shaft is an entirely unprecedented issue and one which, to my knowledge, has never occurred on any other ferry of this type. The ferry has passed all regulatory and insurance inspections with no such issues highlighted. As the drive shaft assembly is built to last the lifetime of the vessel, it was not amongst the hundreds of replacement parts which we routinely keep in stock.”

“The replacement components were sourced and ordered as soon as possible from an approved manufacturer in Sweden. To return the ferry to service as soon as possible, we paid an additional £46,000 to reduce the stated 24-week lead time by more than half. Once the parts arrive in the UK, our dedicated team will be working around the clock to repair and test the ferry with the objective of returning it to full service as soon as possible.”

Mike Kean added: “I would like to thank all of our customers for their continued patience while we work hard on returning the ferry to service. I understand the frustrations and inconvenience the service suspension has caused, which is why we are doing everything in our power to return the ferry to normal service as soon as we can. We are all absolutely committed to serving the needs of the local community and will be providing regular updates on the progress of the repairs in order to help ferry users plan ahead for the next few weeks.”

In response to enquiries as to why a stand-in ferry has not been sourced, Mike Kean commented: “Chain ferries are built to order on a two-year lead time, staying in service until the end of their serviceable life. We have carried out an exhaustive search in the hope of finding a similar vessel to provide a stand-in service, but regrettably there are no suitable ferries on the market in a state of good repair, or which could be quickly brought up to a serviceable level. “ Questions have been raised in the media regarding the provision of an alternative type of vessel, such as a foot passenger service. On this subject, Mike commented: “As foot passenger vessels require a jetty for passengers to embark and alight safely, unfortunately this isn’t a viable option in the short term while we work on returning the chain ferry to service. The landing slipways which are used by the chain ferry aren’t suitable to use as landing points for the vast majority of vessels.”

In response to comments in the media regarding the security of a fund to pay for the future replacement ferry, Mike Kean commented: “The Sandbanks Ferry Company’s latest accounts as at 31st March 2019, submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport, show that the Motor Ferry Replacement Reserve (MFRR) is now ring fenced for the sole purpose of replacing the current vessel when it comes to the end of its time in service. Additionally, dividends have not been taken from the company for over two years and the Company made an overall loss for the year.

“Our policy is, and will continue to be, that dividends will not be paid in any given year before sufficient funds have been transferred into the MFRR to ensure that we hit the target required to replace the existing vessel in the future.”

Customers who have purchased books of ferry tickets through the Sandbanks Ferry Company during 2019 can apply for a refund to the value of unused tickets. All applications should be made by emailing customercare@sandbanksferry.co.uk

Press release 30 July 2019

The Sandbanks Ferry was withdrawn from service on Friday 12th July following an unexpected fracture of one of the main drive shafts and is currently at a repair facility in Southampton. We are working very closely with the MCA (Marine & Coastguard Agency) and Lloyds Register of Shipping (our Class Surveyors for Insurers) to ensure all repairs are conducted to Class standards and specification.

The broken shaft and drive wheel have been removed. The shaft and drive wheel are joined by a hydraulic coupling. As the coupling is a specialist part, we are waiting for the removal kit, which is being flown from Sweden in order to try and separate the coupling. As a precaution we have had the other drive shaft tested and, although no cracks have been detected, the condition is such that we have taken the decision to replace it as well and work has commenced to do this.

As already mentioned, the coupling is a specialist component, which is manufactured to order and, unfortunately, this is on a very long lead time. We are in constant communication with the manufacturers to speed this process up, as well as researching alternatives. The lead time on the coupling means that we do not anticipate being able to resume service until sometime in October. We hope to have a much clearer picture of the return to service date next week.

We sincerely apologise to all our valued customers for this inconvenience and would like to thank all our Contractors, Surveyors (from both Lloyds and MCA) and our Naval Architects BCTQ, who are all working incredibly hard to return us to service as quickly as possible. We also wish to thank the public for the positive words of support received, which certainly helps our hard-working staff who have been demoralised by other uninformed, and in some cases libellous, comments


We are pleased to announce that we can now take payments for credit and debit cards at the toll boxes on the Studland side of the crossing and at the Northaven box (the blue hut on the Poole side).

Facebook and Twitter

Follow us on Twitter @Sandbanksferry, and on Facebook www.facebook.com/SandbanksFerry for the most up to date information as it happens. Both will be updated if we have any breaks in service.


Pictures of Sanbanks ferry

Pictures of Sanbanks ferry

Pictures of Sanbanks ferry
Ferry Office, Shell Bay, Studland, Swanage, Dorset, BH19 3BA.
Telephone: (01929)450203