THE Sandbanks Ferry will now be out of action until October.

The troubled Bournemouth-Swanage Motor Road and Ferry Company has revealed the latest setback in a statement released this morning.

Ferry services were withdrawn on July 12 with users told urgent repairs were needed and that the ferry would not operate until August 12.

But today the company has delivered the blow that it will not operate until the autumn.

Fears have been voiced that traffic problems are putting people off visiting Studland and Purbeck.

The withdrawal of the ferry service means people have to drive 25 miles to get there.

The ferry company statement said: "The Sandbanks Ferry was withdrawn from service on Friday July 12 following an unexpected fracture of one of the main drive shafts and is currently at a repair facility in Southampton.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."

It says a broken shaft and drive wheel have been removed and that a specialist part has been ordered from Sweden.

It added: "We are in constant communication with the manufacturers to speed this process up, as well as researching alternatives. 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."

The company apologised to customers.