Calmac hit by unjustified attacks

The state owned west coast ferry operator, CalMac, is coming under sustained attacks by west clast ferry users infuriated by a welter of recent cancellations on the service from Mallaig on the Lochaber mainland coast to Armadale on the Isle of Skye .

There have been around 80 of such cancellation – a mighty number, a serious inconvenience to islanders in the south west of Skye and to Skye folk headed for Glasgow and the south.

Public anger is understandable and justified.

However, it is unintelligent and unjust to direct that anger at the company and, as is now happening at its very able Managing Director, Martin Dorchester. and at its Operations Director, Drew Collier. There is nothing CalMac or its management can do except make Heath Robinson service rearrangements in this situation.

CalMac is in the public frontline of a service over which it has little real control.

The company is caught between two key external controllers of its circumstances:

  • it has no option but to follow the instructions of its sole shareholder, the Scottish Government, acting through Transport Scotland, who contractually dictate the details of the services to be provided;
  • and it has no option but contractually  to accept the entire and ageing fleet of the state-owned asset holder, Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited [CMAL].

Transport Scotland dictated the deployment of a second boat for the Oban to Mull service – and the only suitable vessel for that service in the CMAl fleet is MV Coruisk, which routinely serves the Mallaig-Armadale route to Skye in the summer season.

Coruisk was replaced on the Armadale service by no fewer than three vessels., two of which are said locally to be incapable of use at low tide.

CalMac are obliged to use the CMAL fleet. It is not their responsibility if that fleet does not have sufficient capability or flexibility to allow for every changing government and public demand upon their services.

They really are stuck between a rock and a hard place, neither of which are themselves visible to the angry and ill-served public ferry user.

All the public see are CalMac boats and a company apparently in charge of and failing to provide a lifeline service [which is no longer the case with Skye, following the construction of the Skye Bridge]. So CalMac gets and takes the flak.

Skye itself is fundamentally responsible for this service failure.

Had the islanders made their failing ferry service an election issue – with the Scottish Election run last week on 5th May – and put the real source of  responsibility for the situation, Transport Scotland, in the stocks – they would have got a result.

If the islanders were silly enough to put political forelock-tugging before what they see as a vital service and not take full advantage of the one serious point of leverage they possessed to get action to resolve the situation, they have only themselves to blame for their naivety.

That moment of leverage is now gone for five years.

Skye should take lessons from Dunoon on the art of being permanently bolshie and threatening with governments, openly offering votes for sale or withdrawal – and getting all sorts of concessions regardless of the cost to the taxpayer.

That stance is an unfair pillaging of the public purse – but the political reality is that if the public do not care or do not voice unrest at illegitimate use of public funds, then the noisiest and most combative grabber wins.

CalMac and its management exist in an utterly invidious situation where they can only be everyone’s whipping boy when anything goes wrong – and the nature of the CMAL fleet dictates that there is always plenty to go wrong.

CMAL too are not wholly responsible for this since the fleet was already ageing and lacked a vessel replacement programme when CMAL was created as the state-owned state maritime asset holder. There now is a vessel replacement programme whose enactment will depend on the Scottish Government making the funds available.

There are serious questions being asked of CMAL’s policy of experiment with new technologies in the new vessels being added to the fleet – for a public lifeline service which has above all to be a reliable workhorse. While that is a separate issue, service breakdowns when untried new technologies fail will continue unfairly to fuel CalMac’s vilification.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • When the previous ship on the Ullapool – Stornoway route – the Isle of Lewis – proved incapable of handling all the commercial traffic, and Calmac had no suitable spare ferry, a ro-ro freight ship was hired in from outside Calmac’s fleet to do a nightly run for commercial vehicle, so it might surely be possible for the government to arrange another fit-for-purpose hire – but, this time, a suitable ferry from Norway, which still has a very extensive ferry network and there’s surely likely to be a spare ship available.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

    Robert Wakeham May 9, 2016 12:47 pm Reply
    • Robert, I wonder if it’s going to be Serco’s problem!

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

      Richard May 9, 2016 1:05 pm Reply
    • Robert, The initial ro-ro freight ship was not hired by Calmac but by the exasperated hauliers. This operation struggled to compete against Calmac’s highly subsidised but lane-constrained Isle of Lewis which always took the first bookings as it was so much cheaper.
      Highland Haulage then begun a Lo-Lo operation taking containers, pallets and general loads from the railway at Stromeferry. This also struggled against the subsidised service and was eventually phased out.
      Calmac then chartered the Muirneag, and later the Clipper Ranger, to run a night freight operation. The Loch Seaforth is now, 20 very expensive years later, almost at the level that Calmac trumpeted the Isle of Lewis was going to achieve in 1995. Whether it ever makes the fabled four round trip daily service that both designs promised, remains to be seen but it does not look like it at the moment.
      The only way that Scottish ferry services will ever run efficienty is if the subsidies are scrapped and users pay their way. Lifeline subsidies should be paid directly to qualifying end users not the operators.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

      Murdoch MacKenzie May 9, 2016 3:46 pm Reply
  • Experimentation with new technology is neither here nor there; the capital cost is all and CMAL appear pretty inept at controlling the inflation of replacement tonnage, novel or otherwise.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

    db May 9, 2016 1:55 pm Reply
  • What is it with these Sleat people? Demanding the heads of Calmac’s over paid Managing and Operations Directors?
    Is For Argyll right that they should keep quiet and realise that it’s all there own fault?
    Er, can we ask why the accused Directors are employed by the public purse if they are not Managing Operations. If, as it says above, the Scottish Government through Transport Scotland are Directing Operations maybe the Skye folk are right and these two massive salaries could be better put towards the provision of suitable vessels or a management that knows something about Island needs.
    One winner that has come out of this is the Coruisk which has gone from being the unwanted wallflower of the Clyde ports to the most desired little ferry on the West Coast.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

    Murdoch MacKenzie May 9, 2016 3:08 pm Reply
  • Apologies for being a bit naive about the Isle of Skye. A bridge has been built to the Island at great public expense (minus the tolls) and the taxpayers are also paying for a ferry as well? If this is the case, is this how our money should be getting spent as long as there is one homeless person, and even one foodbank in our country?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

    Dunoon Lad May 9, 2016 5:34 pm Reply
    • This reason this ferry is obviously a lot more popular these days when travelling to Skye from the South, especially if you live in the Sleat area around Armadale, is because of the much shorter driving distance and hence the fuel savings as compared to the long route up to Invergary, Loch Loyne and Kintail. RET fares will make it an even better option.

      http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/skye/mallaigferry/

      Having the option of a bridge route alternative makes it a similar situation to Dunoon, Portavadie, Kilkreggan or Campelltown.
      If there was a fast route developed from the dualled A9 to the Skye Bridge, I would be against supporting this ferry but without that option it serves a purpose.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

      Murdoch MacKenzie May 9, 2016 7:30 pm Reply
      • Thanks for info Murdoch. Yes, it may serve a purpose, but why taxpayers should be paying for the service, plus paying for RET on top, plus paying off the bridge, plus I take it, maintaining the bridge as well. Seems the ferry bandwagon is never ending.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

        Dunoon Lad May 9, 2016 8:34 pm Reply
        • Why should the taxpayer be paying anything at all for a Gourock – Dunoon link when the area isn’t even an island and a commercial operator runs a very frequent service that can take everything that needs to travel at no cost to the taxpayer at all.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

          Jerry McIver May 11, 2016 8:01 am Reply
          • Jerry, I, and I’m sure hundreds of others in Cowal, would totally agree with you on this. I can now see why some Islands have more than one crossing, due to the vast distances required to travel to them. Dunoon is so different, and much easier to manage if the will was there. There is only two miles between Western’s and Dunoon terminals. Western has proven from their beginning, that the service they provide is a reliable one. This is the crux of the matter – reliability. Surely an hourly bus shuttle service from both towns to both of Western’s terminals would be cheaper (albeit slightly longer) than the current passenger service. Why oh why the government have listened to a few on this matter, when it is very obvious that no private company is willing to provide a duplicate service for vehicles.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

            Dunoon Lad May 11, 2016 5:50 pm
  • Newsroom, whilst on this subject, maybe you could do a piece on the investigations into a possible fixed link to Cowal that is being progressed by various groups?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

    Dunoon Lad May 9, 2016 6:04 pm Reply
    • That’ll not be published until April 1st.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

      JB May 9, 2016 7:19 pm Reply
      • Ha!Ha! Maybe it was April 1st in 1989 when the Bank of America said to the Tories, “We’ve got a PFI Bridge we can sell you”.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

        Murdoch MacKenzie May 9, 2016 7:41 pm Reply
    • Apparently there seems to be funding available for this type of “community regeneration” and some think it is possible to achieve. The idea is to stop the population decline in Cowal. Saying that, it seems that Cowal’s current population of around 10.000, makes the idea not feasible, but the groups aim to increase the population to 50.000 to allow it to go ahead The preferred link (road and/or single/double rail track and new station in Dunoon) from Dunoon town to the Cloch has been thwarted due to high cost. Seems having shorter links from Hunter’s Quay to Strone, then across to Cove area, then across to Helensburgh makes it feasible? Whether this would be road or rail or both, who knows. The Borders railway project was mentioned, as being the idea behind this. I wonder if Western Ferries should be concerned, and would there be finance available for such a bold project?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

      Dunoon Lad May 9, 2016 8:21 pm Reply
      • Presumably the scheme for a bridge is to reduce the travel time to Cowal. Given that at the moment the crossing is 20mins or so, then we’d look to bring the time taken down to a few minutes. SO, we’er aiming for a 17minute time saving.

        Firstly, the Western fleet could be reconfigured to run more quickly – they can do it in 12mins already if required, but using more fuel. So we need another 9minutes.

        The journey from Glasgow to McInroys point can take an hour even on a good day, thanks to a complete lack of any forethought or strategic planning of the A8 trunk road. It can take 30mins from Glasgow to Port Glasgow – and a further 30mins to McInroy’s Point on some days.

        So, we rework the traffic lights, remove some as well as extend the 40mpg limit up to the Victoria Harbour. Taking the worst case example, we could probably get a good 5mins out of that.

        So there we have a 12min saving with very little capital expenditure – the additional fuel saving can be split between subsidy a fraction of the maintainance of a bridge or tunnel) and the fare payer.

        A sustainable, long term solution that is both cost effective, quick to deliver and low risk.

        Some work with Network Rail and Scotrail could easily bring the travel time from Gourock to Glasgow to 30mins at peak times.

        A bridge is a simply ridiculous solution – to a problem that simply does not exist.

        One reason Cowal is in the doldrums is that the largest employer left town – the Americans. TSC did it’s best but wasn’t avble to flourish and expanded elsewhere.

        Unless something is done to bring high quality, well paid jobs – this would be a bridge to no-where, used by the retired and tourists and those who work in Inverclyde.

        If we did a cost/benefits analysis, I’m pretty confident my idea would win hands down – maybe if this bridge idea actually looks like going somewhere, I’ll do a full report.

        Some people sure know how to waste taxpayers money, that’s for sure…

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

        JB May 9, 2016 9:01 pm Reply
        • Rumour Control in Dunoon has indicated that the North Korean Government is seriously considering placing a bid to construct a bridge across the Clyde. Apparently, after.much research by the ‘Sneaky Beakies’ in London it was found that both North Korea and A&BC have much in common especially when it comes to changes to decisions, unethical working practices and showing complete disregard for the wishes of the electorate and/or the people of Argyll. The only stipulation to be imposed by the North Koreans is that all workers must have the ridiculous hairstyle as exhibited by their leader.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

          Alistair May 9, 2016 10:27 pm Reply
  • Thanks JB for such a detailed analysis! Been doing some searching on this. A local Councillor thinks the main reason for the de-population in Cowal is the vehicular monopoly! So Cowal is the only place in Scotland with a vehicular ferry monopoly? Another reason is the unreliable passenger service, where new route specific boats are (allegedly) going to be built – soon? Affordable fares comes into it, but no mention of the time it takes to travel anywhere. Apparently John Swinney is in talks with Dick Walsh about accessing additional funds to aid with the de-population issue. If Western are being cited as a monopoly that are the cause of de-population, what effect are all the other vehicular monopoly ferry services having to the communities they serve?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

    Dunoon Lad May 9, 2016 10:11 pm Reply
    • The residents of south west Skye do not appear enchanted with their own monopoly ferry service.
      Dunoon is a funny place – overcome with a sense of entitlement to the point where, if it doesn’t get what it thinks it wants, it cannot see how lucky it is in what it already has – which in terms of ferry services, beats anything anywhere else in Scotland has.
      With its TWO ferry services, Dunoon has a ferry service provision that puts London buses to shame.
      If Dunooners lived on Colonsay it might improve their sense of perspective.
      The sad thing, is that in its endless expressions of grievance at one thing or another – from wanting all sorts of ferry provision with bells and whistles to the Castle Toward affair, Dunoon turns its vengeance for perceived wrongs on the innocent rather than on the site of responsibility for those perceived wrongs – Transport Scotland and Argyll and Bute Council.
      Dunoon denigrates Western Ferries – a first class service and a first class private sector company that is dedicated to local employment and that any other town would be privileged and proud to have; and denigrates the new owners of Castle Toward – again private sector – who are investing heavily in projects that can only be of benefit to the area.
      It has to be said that this sort of attitude is not encouraging to potential investors. Those already committed are stuck with their decisions – but others will always have alternative and more congenial paces to go.
      The hyperventilation rate in Dunoon ought to be as much a matter of concern as it is tragicomic.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6

      newsroom May 9, 2016 11:12 pm Reply
      • Dunoon is very like Glasgow in it’s strategic thinking. Every mode of travel has to come to the town, and terminate preferably. Western Ferries avoid the Town Quay so they will never be a legitimate ferry service in the eyes of the movers and shakers (in their own view) of the town centre.
        Any Cowal crossing, whether it crosses at Dunoon, Cumbrae and Bute, or as mentioned above via Helensburgh, must have a greater vision and objective than satisfying the parochial needs of Dunoon and its environs. Such a project has to be seen as a first step on a new route to the West that will wipe out most of the ferry services when the rest of the project can be completed.
        My preferred route would be a tunnel to Cowal and, eventually, a bridge at the Burnt Islands for Bute and a road to Otter Ferry, where the redundant Clyde ferries could be utilised until a fixed crossing was established there. Such a route would need major road works around Greenock, like a by-pass to take the traffic from the M8 to the Spango Valley dual carriageway. There’s nothing there that is not done every day in other countries around the World.
        We don’t need more ferries, we need more roads and the crossings and tunnels that make them efficient.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

        Murdoch MacKenzie May 10, 2016 9:37 am Reply
      • Have to agree with you on this Newsroom. Also must add that not only are some demanding new ferries to improve the town centre service, but that this would only be a stopgap, until a fixed link is in place. If that’s not taking the mickey, I don’t know what is. Sky and pie come to mind.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

        Dunoon Lad May 10, 2016 12:36 pm Reply
        • The passenger ferry link between downtown Dunoon and Gourock station definitely needs major improvement – but once that’s done I suspect that only a small minority of local folk would still be grumbling – and rather than deport these people to Colonsay, why stop there – why not offer them transportation to North Rona, for life?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

          Robert Wakeham May 10, 2016 2:19 pm Reply
  • As an illustration of the issues Murdoch has mentioned about the Mallaig – Armadale ferry service, three sailings were cancelled today because the ferries being used on this service cannot cope with the tidal conditions. There was a late sailing put on but this was useless for anyone relying on public transport. Fortunately, a colleague was alerted to the problem and went for a bus. However, the longer journey via the bridge means she missed the last ferry to Mull from Oban and has had to fork out for overnight accommodation there. I usually use the Mallaig ferry when I go to Skye and it’s more convenient than the haul up to the bridge so I have every sympathy with the people of Sleat on this one. It’s also rather embarrassing as the Coruisk is being used on the Craignure-Oban run and I’m from Mull.

    I do wish the good people of Dunoon sometimes would sit back and expand their minds as to the issues of other people reliant on ferries, many of whom would love to have such services as you have. True, Mull now has a commutable service for the first time to Oban but the suitability of the fleet Calmac has to use means we’ve pinched the Coruisk. (The commute is only possible if you have a vehicle as there are no buses serving the first ferry of the day!)

    We will lose the Coruisk (so we’re advised) over the winter and residents are being asked if we want the commuter service and lose two sailings during the day – not great if you want a shop or have appointments in Oban).

    I can hear some folks say that Mull is lucky in having three ferry routes

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

    Jade May 11, 2016 1:08 am Reply
    • Isn’t it only a small group of Dunoon folk who are jumping up and down and shouting – and motivated in part by a visceral hatred for the free-enterprise Western Ferries company?
      If only they’d concentrate on getting a really decent and fit-for-purpose passenger ferry service they’d do less harm and more good for the image of Dunoon and its citizens.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

      Robert Wakeham May 11, 2016 9:09 pm Reply
      • Think you have hit the nail square on the head Robert! Details are somewhat sketchy at the moment, but yes, the few people involved should have been pushing for purpose built passenger boats. Going by some comments on this story, David MacBrayne are probably not the shipping experts that the public think they are, or its financial restrictions on the ship replacements that is to blame for the shortage of route specific boats available. Saying that, they don’t really have any experience with high speed passenger services, so surely companies that run successful passenger services should be consulted, or even tasked to set up a proper system that would deliver such a service.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

        Dunoon Lad May 11, 2016 10:52 pm Reply
  • Never, ever, again will I try to write a reply directly into the box on this site – it has a will of its own and yet again cut off my post!

    To continue, Yes, Mull has three ferries and we are lucky. Yet each one serves its purpose. Tob-Kilchoan provides access to Tob High School and Tob’s shops from west Ardnamurchan people and also a tourist route. Fishnish-Lochaline (usually the most reliable in bad weather) links to Morvern, carries over their mail and brings our petrol and again is a tourist route, plus a much easier route if northbound for Mull residents. This service is considerably down on numbers with the introduction of RET but what’s really crippling is the cost of Corran Ferry run by Highland Council – a case for a bridge if ever there was one! This is the ferry that’s the most vulnerable. Oban-Craignure is the biggy and prior to RET was the profitable one. It’s already very busy. Many islands must be very jealous of what Dunoon and Mull have in terms of ferries and with good reason.

    Lynda, whilst you’re correct that Calmac can only juggle what CMAL can offer them in vessels, I do wonder how many people (as in the public) actually knew what vessels were going to be employed before the change to summer timetables. Mull people knew we’d have the Coruisk but only if one happened to pick up a provisional timetable published locally in our monthly magazine – if you missed it, you’d not have known. Moreover, Calmac’s timetables for Mull don’t state which ferry is doing which run, hence the request for this information as the Coruisk does not have a full cafeteria service and a lot of people eat on the ferry.

    Dunoon Lad, thank you for asking why the Sleat people are concerned.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

    Jade May 11, 2016 1:43 am Reply
  • Sleats ferry problems are a consequence (1) of Scottish Govt’s failure to invest in new ferries as per its 2013 Ferry Plan and (2) Scottish Govt’s failure to initiate the investment required to modify Craignure to accommodate the mv Isle of Lewis, as per Scottish Govt’s 2014 Vessel Deployment Plan .

    Transferring the Coruisk to the Oban-Craignure route was a panic-quick-fix solution for Scottish Govt.

    Sleat should demand the resignation of Scottish Govt’s Ministers of Transport since 2012 (Brown and Mackay) ,and not Calmac’s Dorchester. The latter can only do his masters, Scottish Govt’s, bidding.

    The Coruisk’s facilitites are highlighted on the time table on the Calmac w/site

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

    Scotnat May 11, 2016 9:44 am Reply
    • I sailed over to Mull on the Coruisk yesterday and can confirm that the facilities are highlighted on the timetable as Scotnat has said. A lovely little vessel and, like others, I can understand the resentment from the folk on Skye.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

      Lowry May 12, 2016 6:26 am Reply
    • Calmac as the experienced and expert operator of the west coast vessels and services could have said no to Scottish Government and made a strong case that removing the Coruisk from Skye is the wrong answer on the grounds of the impact on reliability on the route. Transport Scotland is not equipped, experienced or has any genuine ability at a technical and operational level to determine appropriate vessel deployment decisions like this, so it must have been Calmac’s choice.
      The Coruisk may be a fine vessel for Mull, but thats not the point if its deployment there had been decided in the full knowledge of the impact on Skye. The West Coast ferry operator has a responsibility to all islands to deliver as best service they can with the assets they have. This must mean occasionally saying no to the demands of Islanders and Ministers if it is not in the greater good for all and fully justifying with evidence why this is the best decision.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      Jerry McIver May 13, 2016 9:17 am Reply
      • Whoever’s decision it was, it does seem to have been a win for cack-handed expediency (if there can be such a thing) over practical reality, in effect a botch-up (to put it politely) and if the government and the ferry operator don’t have the will and the know-how to put it right then one or both need their feet holding to the fire.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

        Robert Wakeham May 13, 2016 10:48 am Reply
  • Why not provide the extra services needed with one of the small ferries running between Fishnish and Oban? No tide restriction then.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    db May 12, 2016 12:53 pm Reply
  • I heard this morning the Brodick service has been hit by technical issues and the Campbeltown service pulled for the time being as a result.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

    JB May 13, 2016 12:22 pm Reply
    • Aye! She’s made her way back to Birkenhead.
      I did not see her going into any of the dry docks when she was down there for her re-fit, but looking at her now on AIS it looks like she’s lining up to go into one of them.
      She was there long enough in the basin and I was surprised I did not see her going into a dry dock, unless they have some kind of floating dock in the basin, or a tidal lift of some kind. Do they need to come out of the water every year?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Murdoch MacKenzie May 13, 2016 6:13 pm Reply
  • Maybe this is another unjustified attack on poor old Calmac, re the Isle of Arran dry-docking.
    They are posting that she is out of action until at least Wednesday and her 5 return runs a day are cancelled. They are apologizing to their customers, as they do, and that seems to be it.
    Now, the Caledonian Isles carries 110 cars to the Isle of Arran’s 76 and 1000 passengers to her 448. If they really care, why do they not do extra sailings, say two early in the morning and two at night. I’m sure they could call in staff from leave to help out for a few days.
    In fact three sailings would probably suffice unless she was fully booked out. Then again it may be that the Caledonian Isles copes on her own and the extra ferry is just more waste, except of course for the forgotten Campeltown passengers who are just getting the big red X and the standard cut and paste apology.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    Murdoch MacKenzie May 15, 2016 8:01 am Reply
    • Murdoch, the Campbeltown service is just to make transport Scotland and the minister look good, it will always be bottom of the list, we are too far away from Holyrood for anyone to care, I can’t see our MSP challenging the minister.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

      Richard May 15, 2016 9:46 am Reply
  • Calmac have advised the MV Isle of Arran will not be back in service till Thursday, at the earliest.

    Pity our transport minister (Mackay) cant pay more attention to problems with life-line ferry services, rather than getting into a froth over a tourist train.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    Scotnat May 15, 2016 10:34 am Reply
    • ‘Getting into a froth over a tourist train’ was understandable, in the circumstances. Imagine if BEAR decided to close the A83 to traffic at very short notice because theoretically it’s not wide enough for HGVs to use safely? (arguably it isn’t at places like Arrochar)

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

      Robert Wakeham May 15, 2016 11:58 am Reply
      • Hardly the same. A 83 closes and an entire part of the country gets cut off. Steam Train can’t run and a privileged few can’t have their jolly day out. The islands are much more like the A83, so carping on about the steam train should be the last of Mackays worries, especially as he’s not even the tourism minister. Pulling his finger out and sorting the shambles of the ferry service, something he does have absolute control over, should be the priority for the Transport Minister.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

        Jerry McIver May 16, 2016 10:19 am Reply
    • From what you say it looks as though there will be no Campbeltown ferry next week, congratulations to the transport minister.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      Richard May 16, 2016 10:39 am Reply
  • The Calmac website is saying that the Isle of Arran will not return to work until Thursday. She left Birkenhead early this morning on sea trials and heaved to just East of the Hamilton platform where she sat for six hours. She has now reached the Isle of Man and is running up the Eastern coast at about 10Knots. I imagine that some or all of the riding crew are being taken off by launch to get the IOM ferry back to Liverpool.
    She is showing an eta at Troon of 0700, so it’s either they have more work to complete there or they are going to have a rest after their long excursion and pick up their timetable 24 hours later. Do you think we’ll ever find out what was wrong seeing as we’re all paying the bill.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

    Murdoch MacKenzie May 17, 2016 8:51 pm Reply
    • My impression, these days, is that Calmac are rather more open about problems with boats than was sometimes the case in the past.
      Surely the management must have realised by now that it’s better to keep people properly informed than risk all sorts of rumours circulating.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

      Robert Wakeham May 17, 2016 10:50 pm Reply
  • the new ferry is serve in either 2018 or 2019 replace by MV Isle of Arran. while allowing MV Caledonian isles as a second ferry on the Ardrossan-Brodick/Campbeltown route.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

    Scott Smith May 17, 2016 10:15 pm Reply
  • Ferry procurement is all a bit too political for my liking.

    The SEG / Nats have wasted £35mill on the three “hybrid” ferries which are or were a technical marvel for all of 10 minutes but will be a huge waste of money for the rest of their Calmac careers. Compare and contrast their capabilities with the units that Western have built recently and you are looking at £25mill wasted on some “green” headlines and a bit of corporate welfare for a struggling shipyard.

    The total £35mill budget could have been used to build 3 general purpose ferries similar but better than the Coriusk to support a number of routes on the west coast.

    Next up is the £95mill ego trip on two gas ferries that are double the cost they should be. Good work if you can get it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

    Fat Bloke on Tour July 25, 2016 8:21 pm Reply
    • ‘General purpose ferries’ seem to be rather a radical concept for some people.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

      Robert Wakeham July 26, 2016 1:26 am Reply

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