Temporary closure of Port Ellen on Islay for April-May 2016 – details of rerrangements

Essential repair work at Port Ellen Ferry Terminal will require ferry operator CalMac to divert all Islay services to Port Askaig for a period of around three weeks.

The port’s linkspan is being replaced, along with cylinders and pipework, being upgraded by owner, Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd [CMAL], requiring closure from 18th April.

There will be no reduction in overall service, but an amended timetable will operate, since all ferries to and from Islay will instead use the reliable and heltered Port Askaig on the Sound of Jura for the duation of the CMAL works at Port Ellen.

A bus transfer service will be provided from Port Ellen to Port Askaig for foot passengers.

CalMac’s director of operations, Drew Collier, says: ‘While this closure will, unfortunately, cause some inconvenience to the travelling public for a short period of time, this is essential upgrade work being carried out by the port owners, CMAL.

‘To help us limit disruption as much as possible we ask that foot passengers looking to travel to or from Port Ellen should book with our contact centre 24 hours before they travel during this period. This will allow us to plan road transfers effectively.’

Note: The CalMac contact centre though which passengers to and from Islay can book is available by phone on: 0800 066 5000.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • The argument will go something like this. “Calmac have set a precedent by supplying a bus from Port Ellen to Port Askaig, ergo they should provide fuel to the vehicles for the extra travel”.
    Sounds crazy, but when the Stornoway route got switched to Uig for the Ullapool linkspan change, the SY “stakeholders” squeezed Calmac and the Minister so hard that they allowed travel from Stornoway to Uig for the same price as Tarbert-Uig.
    This meant that anyone foolish enough to book the Tarbert ferry had to travel to the ferry at his/her own fuel costs while the “stakeholders” got carried double the ferry distance for the same fare and without any fuel cost.
    It could only happen in subsidy land.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    Murdoch MacKenzie March 3, 2016 12:39 pm Reply
    • Prior to 2006 if a ferry was diverted from Port Ellen to Port Askaig foot passengers on Islay had to make their own way to Port Askaig at their own expense.
      However one Sunday afternoon I noticed on the Calmac website the Brodick to Ardrossan ferry was being diverted to Gourock and Calmac were providing a bus to take passengers from Ardrossan to Gouorck to meet the Arran ferry.
      I immediately sent an email to Hugh Dan McLennan stating that Calmac should put on a bus to take foot passengers from Port Ellen to Port Askaig every time the ferry was diverted to Port Askaig and likewise on the odd occasion it was diverted to Port Ellen.
      If Calmac were prepared to put a bus on to transport foot passengers free of charge from Ardrossan to Gourock then they should do likewise for passengers on the Kennacraig to Islay route.
      Since then free transport has been provided by Calmac for foot passengers on Islay every time that the sailings have been diverted from the published timetable to Port Askaig or Port Ellen.
      I did this as a member of the public. If I had waited for our community council to take action nothing would have been done!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

      Treble T March 3, 2016 9:24 pm Reply
  • It would be interesting to know more about the scope of the essential repair work, because just a few years ago a lot of money was spent on upgrading the Port Ellen terminal.
    Maybe the new work is unrelated, but it begs the question of why it couldn’t have all been done at the same time, to minimise disruption.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

    Robert Wakeham March 3, 2016 2:01 pm Reply
    • Robert, you ask about the scope of the work, but what part of “The port’s linkspan is being replaced, along with cylinders and pipework” do you not understand? My understanding is that the existing linkspan at Port Ellen was repositioned when the ‘Finlaggan’ came into service in 2010, but was only refubished at the time and not replaced. Five or six years later, this very exposed piece of equipment now needs replacing.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

      Alex McKay March 3, 2016 2:17 pm Reply
      • Maybe I should’ve said ‘how the scope of the repair work relates to the previous improvement works’ but my point remains, and on reflection I further wonder where the design of the new linkspan ‘fits’ in the order of things relative to the disparity between various boats and various linkspans around the west coast that seems to makes planning alterations to ferry services quite challenging.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

        Robert Wakeham March 3, 2016 2:34 pm Reply

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