Vessel Replacement and Deployment Plan shows Campbeltown ferry service continuing

Transport Scotland has just published the Vessel Replacement and Deployment Plan created by the triumvirate of itself, the asset holder, CMAL [Caledonian Maaritie Assets Limited] and the operator, CalMac Ferries Limited – which has led the definition of the future fleet.

This outlines the future make-up of the ferry fleet serving the Clyde and Hebridean ferry services network.

A first reading of the full plan reveals the following sentence – on Page 5 at Point 6: ‘The two ‘pilot’ services will continue as is.’

The continuation of the Mallaig-Lochboisdale pilot as a committed service has already been announced, Nothing has yet been said about the Ardrossan-Campbeltown pilot – but this commitment in the published plan is the news Kintyre has been wanting to hear.

 The Vessel Replacement and Deployment Plan [VRDP] gives an overview how existing vessels could be moved throughout the network to deliver the Government’s Ferries Plan commitments and better meet demand, looking at the procurement of new ships to eventually replace some of the older vessels in the fleet.

Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, says: ‘This plan, agreed between the Scottish Government, CalMac Ferries Ltd and Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd, outlines the measures we aim to take collectively to meet increasing demands on these lifeline services, as well as looking at how and when to introduce new vessels in place of some of the older ones.

‘It also looks at how we will manage increasing demand from the introduction of Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) across the network, which gives island residents and visitors access to significantly reduced fares.

‘While many of these measures will be implemented over the longer term as funding becomes available, we have already started putting this plan into action with the commissioning by CMAL of the two new 100m vessels that are destined initially for the Ardrossan-Brodick and Uig Triangle routes.’

Transport Scotland published Scottish Ferry Services: Ferries Plan [2013-2022] in December 2012 as a basis for the shape of all of Scotland’s ferry services until 2022 and it underpins the development of the VRDP as it applies to the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services network. The VRDP is intended to complement the Ferries Plan by also considering historical and projected customer demand and the on-going provision of capacity to meet that demand.

For Argyll is currently engaged in a close analysis of the full plan but from a preliminary reading of it, there is a sense – as with Transport Scotland’s Roads ‘policy’ – that future planning is less planning for future demand than planning for the future deliverability of current demand.

The strategy for the future appears to be to commission major units for the offshore routes, which will require substantial infrastructural revision at the ports and harbours concerned.

Another issue here is that these larger and much more fuel hungry vessels – and especially as the price of oil rises, which it will have done before they are built and in service – could not, with financial responsibility, be deployed to deliver the service frequencies that are a repeated demand from the islands.

The future formula for the offshore routes appears to be much bigger vessels – of the MV Loch Seaforth scale – shifting larger volumes.

Given that these future ships will operate out of purpose-upgraded ports and habours, the combination of better all-weather berthing and large ships capable of dealing with all weathers should see much greater service reliability – which for the outer isles, is a serious boon.

It is clear from the plan that the two new 100m vessels currently in the process of being contracted to Ferguson Marine, are a makeshift answer to the absolute lack of forward planning which is very belatedly now being addressed.

They will clearly be an interim measure to soak up increasing demand as best they can for the time being – and the full introduction of Road Equivalent Tariff [RET] fares this month is expected to see seasonal demand rise substantially.

When the future vessels are commissioned and in service. these two vessels will clearly be cascaded down the network, improving capacity to other routes. When further planned capacity is provided for Arran in the future, the 100 metre vessel for Arran is already designated to move to the Islay route – which will require ‘the Islay berths’ to be extended.

When the new 100 metre vessel designated for the Uig Triangle arrives in service, the plan was to move the MV Hebrides to act as second vessel on the Oban route. The plan notes that conversations with Argyll and Bute Council on the necessary development of the berth at Craignure indicate that this deployment is unlikely to be achievable in the short term.

CalMac are said already to have a vessel deployment plan for Summer 2016, which will add capacity to the Mull route in the meantime.

We have already noted contradictions in the plan, one of which is of concern. The report admits that there is no existing data for unsatisfied demand only for satisfied demand; and mentions ongoing consideration of methods that night be implemented for the reliable measurement of unsatisfied demand.

Yet the plan declares: ‘Demand in excess of 70% of the available weekly capacity is unsatisfied’. This is in a list of factors described as ‘assumptions’ on which the planning has been based. Assuming a figure ‘in excess of 70%’ for unsatisfied weekly demand – when there is admittedly no data on which to assess such demand,  is one mighty assumption. The scale of this indiscriminate assertion has to be a matter of concern in the insight it provides into the security of this future planning.

For Argyll will publish its full analysis of the plan when it is complete.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • in 2018 the two 100m vessel on the Ardrossan-Brodick and Uig-Lochmaddy/Tarbert route. replace by MV Caledonian isles & MV Hebrides.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Scott Smith October 2, 2015 1:05 pm Reply
  • All very confusing , particularly when it also offered as an Annual Report 2014 .

    Dont be fooled by Govt speak regarding this report reflecting to the Ferry Plan . It is a re-write of the Ferry replacement progamme of the 2012 Ferry Plan .

    The 2012 Ferry plan stipulated 6 new ferries on order or under construction between now and 2019. Currently there are only 3 on order ie the 2x100m which bizarrely still await confirmation, and the 3rd hybrid ferry.

    The Ferry Plan had the Hebridiean Isles to be replaced in 2016 and Isle of Mull replaced in 2019 . These have been pushed back to 2021 and 2024 respectively. There are other significant changes.

    The 4th hyrbid ferry is not even mentioned . Jim Mc Coll expected a 4th hybrid order when he bought Fergusons. Possibly the 2X100m ferries make up for the disappearance of this 4th hybrid Bizarely, in May, Calmac was discussing the route for the 4th hybrid , not withstanding it was a member of the tripartite group of Transport Scotland/CMAL/Calmac which drew up this report dropping any reference to a 4th hybrid..

    Currently there is a £35mill gap in Scottish Govt’s forecast of the capital funding requirement to 2019 of the vessel replacement programme as per the Ferry Plan, and at least a further £50mill gap in Scottish Govt estimates for the period 2019-2025 . This new replacement schedule dodges the short term capital funding gap,but only increases the longer term capital funding gap.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

    robtrythall October 2, 2015 4:53 pm Reply
    • No wonder there is a £350m underspend.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

      Richard October 2, 2015 5:56 pm Reply
    • You’ve just saved us a lot of time. First class analysis.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

      newsroom October 2, 2015 10:47 pm Reply
  • there are 6 new calmac ferries clyde and hebrides

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

    Scott Smith October 2, 2015 5:56 pm Reply
  • Campbeltown ferry service continues.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    Scott Smith October 2, 2015 6:06 pm Reply
  • newsroom the new ferry on the Ardrossan=Brodick in 2018 is replace by MV Caledonian isles, as a second ferry replace by MV isle of arran

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Scott Smith October 4, 2015 3:28 pm Reply
  • I hope that CalMal continue to develop hybrid ferries – they have their good points.
    Having spent a couple of nights in the transit marina at Rothesay over the so called summer, boy do you get a rude awakening when they fire up the diesels of the Argyle and Bute!
    Having also spent a night at Tarbert (Loch Fyne) lying virtually beside the ferry’s overnight berth, all I heard in the morning was a low humming noise as the ferry travelled out of the harbour to the ramp.
    This must be appreciated by the residents of the village and the marina.

    It seems to me that the surplus of electricity over night (from whatever source) must be increasing with the gradual replacement of sodium vapour lights with LED street lights.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

    JimB October 5, 2015 11:31 am Reply
    • Yes, “Mony a mickle maks a muckle”.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Murdoch MacKenzie October 5, 2015 11:54 am Reply
    • Possibly the reason the 4th hybrid has been dropped is they aint performing too well.

      Calmac board minutes state:-

      The Board discussed the reliability of the hybrid vessels and the significantly higher amount of lost operational time over other fleet vessels.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

      robtrythall October 5, 2015 12:02 pm Reply
    • How many are being exported to foreign ferry companies or built under licence?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

      Lundavra October 5, 2015 12:44 pm Reply
      • none

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

        robtrythall October 5, 2015 4:22 pm Reply
        • That’s what I suspected, not a f=great success then.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

          Lundavra October 5, 2015 5:02 pm Reply
          • That’s what I suspected, not a great success then.

            Caught the keyboard, not an abbreviation!

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

            Lundavra October 5, 2015 5:04 pm
  • what about Calmac winter timetable 2015/16

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Scott Smith October 5, 2015 4:55 pm Reply
  • Still think ferries the size of finlaggan are the way to go. Two ferries of that size to Islay, mull and Arran. Stop building bigger ferries and avoid redeveloping ports every time. The cost of port redevelopment could easily build another ferry …. £25m spent on kennacraig and Islay ports to accommodate the finlaggan. This would provide more flexibility when breakdowns occur or overhauls required. When loch seaforth goes into dock two ferries are needed to replace one thereby upsetting a few communities. Islay cannot run on one ferry.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    argyllflyer October 6, 2015 11:01 pm Reply
  • MV isle of Lewis goes for overhaul with her ramps both front and back. She early 2016 for northlink vessels for overhaul on the Orkney or Shetland. As it has been the best thing ever perhaps MV isle of Arran continue on the Ardrossan-Brodick/Campbeltown route until the new ferry had arrived in 2019. You know what the new Brodick ferry terminal it should either year 2017 2018 or 2019.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Scott Smith November 7, 2015 2:42 am Reply

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