It does look like they want to break …

Comment posted Streamline challenge on Northern Ferries tender underlines paralysis of MacBrayne group by Ferryman.

It does look like they want to break up CalMac, but why is not clear. Private companies will snap up the profitable routes. The Government will be left subsidising the unprofitable routes. Everybody will lose because there will be no ability to move relief boats around during maintenance periods.

This is exactly the position in Dunoon. The vehicle part of the old CalMac service was making a profit every year from 2002 until it ended in 2011. Now the Government has to subsidise a dismal passenger service that cannot cope with the weather and has to run a half service for four weeks each year because there are no relief boats. Meanwhile Western gain 60,000 vehicle crossings per year with no control on prices and profit.

This seems set to spread throughout the ferry routes in Scotland – not good news.

Ferryman also commented

  • Of course they enjoy good services, just like Dunoon has a reliable service. Unless you are local to the route and use it regularly you really don’t know all the ins and outs.
  • Transport Scotland do not seem particularly competent at writing contracts – read yours carefully.

    In theory CalMac can take legal action, it practice I imagine it not possible because CalMac is run by the Scottish Government so people are hardly likely to try to take Court action against a decision made by their own bosses.

    There was no logic to the Dunoon Gourock route decision. A linkspan had been built a promise of vehicle ferries had been made, then all of a sudden there was a U-turn. Now with the CalMac losing Northlink it is starting to look as if there is an agenda to break up CalMac.

Recent comments by Ferryman

  • Responses to Scottish Government’s Information Day on potential Gourock-Dunoon ferry service
    As usual newsroom bends things by quoting the MVA report as saying the vehicle service ‘could be feasible’.

    In fact the reports states; “This study has therefore demonstrated that, given the assumptions made and analysis
    undertaken here,a passenger and vehicle ferry service IS feasible.”
    [ see section 9.1.10 http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/files/documents/reports/j278759/j278759.pdf ]

    I am not surprised that Serco are interested in what is Scotland’s busiest vehicle ferry route particularly when the competition turns such a massive profit margin from poorly located ports.

    If Serco have wider ambitions for ferries in Scotland, as it seems they do, then Dunoon Gourock would make sense.

  • Scottish Government moves on Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Services provision
    “A lifeline ferry service is required in order for a community to be viable.”

    So Dunoon is lifeline then – good.

  • Scottish Government moves on Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Services provision
    Newsroom says that Dunoon Gourock is “not a lifeline service”.

    I think Dunoon Gourock is an essential lifeline service but obviously Soapbox aka Newsroom does not.

    So where is the definition of “lifeline” so that we can decide who is correct?

    The answer is that there is no definition – Transport Scotland shall decide, route by route, to whom that applies.

    As to contractual terms, look at Dunoon Gourock, anybody can run anything there is absolutely no contractual need for the service to be reliable. So if your route is goung to be tendered in this way you are totally unprotected.

    Of course Dunoon Gourock is only a piddling little route – well no, according to the Scottish Government it is the most important Scottish route for vehicle transport and significant even on European terms, but that of course is not enough to make it lifeline in Newsroom’s eyes.

  • So what will Transport Scotland talk to Brussels about on Dunoon-Gourock ferry?
    Read the report.

    The taxpayer and the people of Dunoon/Cowal can have a passenger only service and pay a subsidy for it.

    Alternatively they can pay the same subsidy and get a passenger and vehicle service.

    Of course if they choose the vehicle service then the subsidy is paid back via berthing fees both to the Scottish Government and Argyll and Bute Council – in other words to the public purse it is for practical purposes free (which the passenger only service is not). Not only that but the operator of the vehicle service makes a larger profit.

    All of which in a Scottish Government produced report meets all EC requirements.

  • Lairds powering on to get Western’s boats completed
    So they are not actually as promised going to be in service for the games this year?

    If they were in service what would the additional car carrying capacity and people carrying capacity per hour have been?

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19 Responses to It does look like they want to break …

  1. There should be no reason on earth why any of the bidders for the contract should be prevented from challenging the outcome of the tendering process, if they consider themselves hard done by.
    The specific offers for ‘extras’, and of any conditions imposed by bidders – beyond what’s specified in the tender – should be public knowledge, and if they’re not then surely that’s cause enough for any or all of the losing bidders to challenge the outcome; the whole process should be transparent, and that popular let-out ‘commercial confidentiality’ shouldn’t be used as an excuse to conceal any controversial aspects of the process.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. The MacBrayne group would certainly face some difficulty in challenging any contract award, and have been in such a position before on the Ballycastle-Rathlin route. One has to wonder why the Scottish government took such an “interest” in the way that particular contract was awarded.
    ” Judith Ainsley, Guy Platten of CMAL and Mike Berry (Scottish Government Ferries Division) are hoping to meet with representatives of DRD (Department for Regional Development) Northern Ireland to discuss the tendering of the Rathlin-Ballycastle ferry service, this will be followed by a visit to the ferry operator”
    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/935/0087905.doc

    Perhaps Streamline have done MacBrayne a favour in opening the process up to legal scrutiny.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • I don’t understand why ‘the MacBrayne group would certainly face some difficulty in challenging any contract award’ – Why? Surely the tendering process has by law to be a level playing field, and if Northlink (which is surely more than just MacBrayne) were to find fault with the contract award they’d be just as free as any other tenderer to object. This is a government tender involving public money and must be organised fairly, or the media will have a field day and the Transport Minister will have some explaining to do. That’s quite apart from what the European authorities might see fit to do.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. I think you will find streamline credit card machines has nothing to do with streamline shipping!

    Come on, poor research

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. NORTHERN ISLES FERRY TENDER
    Back
    13 May 2012

    “NorthLink Ferries Ltd today confirms that it is in continuing discussions with the Scottish Government to clarify certain aspects of the procurement process which eight days ago saw Scottish Ministers announce that the six-year contract to operate lifeline ferry services for Orkney and Shetland was to be awarded to Serco Ltd. NorthLink’s current contract to operate the services is due to expire on July 5″ http://www.northlinkferries.co.uk/default.aspx.locid-00gnew3eu.Lang-EN.htm

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • Independence? Hardly independence, as NorthLink is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Macbrayne Group (i.e. the Scottish Government) and who are they currently running the service for? Oh yes, the Scottish Government! Perhaps not so much independence as nepotism?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. “they’d be just as free as any other tenderer to object. This is a government tender involving public money and must be organised fairly, or the media will have a field day and the Transport Minister will have some explaining to do.”

    Do you think? Having read their responses to an “independent” investigation into the awarding of the Rathlin contract, it’s very clear that Calmac/Rathlin Ferries Ltd were unhappy at the way in which that tendering process had been operated. Yet, no legal challenge? http://www.scribd.com/doc/9618691/CalmacRFL-Addendum-Note-to-DRD-investigations-body
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/9592687/CalmacRFL-Note-to-the-DRD-investigations-body

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • I hope we’re not getting into some sort of Scottish public sector giant pile of sleaze centred on inadequately defined process in tendering for large public transport contracts. It could be stretching from the megabungling of the Edinburgh tram system procurument disaster at one end of the scale to the microbungling of the Gourock – Kilcreggan – Helensburgh ferry links at the other, taking in the Gourock – Dunoon affair and the ongoing saga of Calmac routes retendering on the way. Not sure about the quality of the second Forth Road Bridge contract, but time will tell.

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  6. I stay on Orkney and we are just sick of the mess the Government is making of our lifeline ferry service. The contract with Serco, if it lasts, is undesirable -they can only make money by cutting services and the crew’s pay and numbers and their reputation as a cutter of pay and numbers is clear from their control of NHS contracts in England. As well as the developing contract fiasco, this year we had the mess the Government made of the dry dock timetable where they went behind Orkney’s back to get Shetland council to pay extra for an extended charter of the Hebridean Isles (I think); we’ve the attempt to cut service standards by slowing down the boats and reducing services; there is the continuing saga of the alternating denial and promise of RET which, if it comes has receded to the next Parliament.

    This is heading for a grand all purpose mess.

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    • Are you sure you’re not over-egging the pudding? With two separate Northlink services (Stromness – Scrabster and Kirkwall – Aberdeen / Lerwick, the Pentland Ferries route from St Margaret’s Hope to Gills Bay, and the freight ferry between Kirkwall and Aberdeen / Lerwick, to the outside observer it looks as if Orkney enjoys good lifeline ferry services.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      • I agree that we do well with the service we get – the service from the Hope to Gills Bay is completely private with no subsidy nor does it count as a life line service. Our bind is not so much about the service as the secretive and underhanded behaviour of the Government – for example we don’t know about what the new contract says about ferry frequencies or times; there looks to be a cut back in the freight boats for both sets of islands; the possibility of RET for Orkney ferries- including the internal services has receded to beyond 2015.

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      • Of course they enjoy good services, just like Dunoon has a reliable service. Unless you are local to the route and use it regularly you really don’t know all the ins and outs.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Transport Scotland do not seem particularly competent at writing contracts – read yours carefully.

    In theory CalMac can take legal action, it practice I imagine it not possible because CalMac is run by the Scottish Government so people are hardly likely to try to take Court action against a decision made by their own bosses.

    There was no logic to the Dunoon Gourock route decision. A linkspan had been built a promise of vehicle ferries had been made, then all of a sudden there was a U-turn. Now with the CalMac losing Northlink it is starting to look as if there is an agenda to break up CalMac.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. i think the snp agenda is get rid of calmac ,alex salmond stated yesterday the basf factory in stornoways would create 9 jobs (equal to thousands in the glasgow/edinburgh). when they give northlink and calmac away ,i fear hundreds of jobs will be lost (mostly in rural areas ).
    how will he explain that !!!!

    this isnt scaremongering it will happen .

    snp …only interested in big business ….get these clowns out

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    • It does look like they want to break up CalMac, but why is not clear. Private companies will snap up the profitable routes. The Government will be left subsidising the unprofitable routes. Everybody will lose because there will be no ability to move relief boats around during maintenance periods.

      This is exactly the position in Dunoon. The vehicle part of the old CalMac service was making a profit every year from 2002 until it ended in 2011. Now the Government has to subsidise a dismal passenger service that cannot cope with the weather and has to run a half service for four weeks each year because there are no relief boats. Meanwhile Western gain 60,000 vehicle crossings per year with no control on prices and profit.

      This seems set to spread throughout the ferry routes in Scotland – not good news.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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