Scottish Government moves on Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Services provision

Yesterday, 9th September, the Scottish Government made two formal moves in respect of the provision of the Clyde and Hebridean Ferry Services.

They issued a Prior Information Notice [here] of what is to be a two year tendering process to start on 3rd November 2014.

This gives no indication of the nature of the contract or contracts to be offered and this will not be known until six weeks after the independence referendum on 18th September 2014.

The Prior Information Notice came on the same day as Jamie McGrigor MSP received a response from Transport Minister, Keith Brown, to his question on the Scottish Government”s specific plans for opening pre-tendering access to ferry service contracts to local authorities and local ferry action groups involved.

The response was that the Scottish Government plans to offer across the routes the same access to pre-tendering discussions with potential operators as the Infrastructure Secretary has committed to offering in respect of any developments in the non-lifeline service between Gourock and Dunoon on the Clyde.

This access is to be decided by Scottish Ministers on a case by case basis, with ferry action groups on the routes for Islay, the Small Isles and Lochboisdale among those very keen to be involved.

Given that the Gourock-Dunoon route already has a successful private sector ferry operator offering vehicle and passenger services on a route that is not a lifeline service, it is difficult to see what reason Scottish Ministers might have to deny this specific pre-tendering access to any other local ferry action group where lifeline services are concerned.

The future for such tenders is now looking much more democratic and the Scottish Government is to be congratulated for the clarity of its intention that this is to be the case.

The Scottish Government also issued yesterday what is in effect a public information notice of the fact that they have awarded a three year extension of contract to CalMac for the delivery of the Clyde and Hebridean Services. It had been announced a year ago that this was to be done, so yesterdays notice [here] confirms that this has now been done.

The contract value is £285 million and the Scottish Government’s account of the need for it is:

‘Prior publication of a contract notice in the OJEU was not required as the contract is for services listed in Annex II B of Directive 2004/18/EC. However Scottish Ministers remain committed to ensuring that Scotland’s subsidised ferry service contracts are awarded following fair, open and transparent procurement competitions.

‘Awarding a 3-year contract extension to CalMac Ferries Ltd from 2013 to 2016 will allow Scottish Ministers to ensure that, starting in 2014, a robust and thorough procurement exercise is conducted for the next contract that will enable the delivery of enhanced ferry services across the Clyde and Hebrides (CHFS) routes.

‘The Scottish Government’s comprehensive review of ferry services concluded with the publication of the final Ferries Plan on 19 December 2012. Scottish Ministers wish to build the recommendations of the Ferries Plan into the next tender exercise. It is clear that a tender exercise for CHFS will take around 2 years to complete. This includes 6 months to allow the operator to fully mobilise their service under the new contractual regime.

‘If Scottish Ministers had sought to tender the CHFS services for the period from 2013-2016 the nature and complexity of these services would have meant there was no realistic prospect of completing the tender exercise in the time available.

‘In addition, there were doubts around the likely response from ferry operators to a tender for a 3-year contract. If there was a tender for a contract for just 3 years duration, there would likely be a very mixed reaction from the market with indications being that there would be little competition.

‘The 2013-2016 extension of the contract with CalMac Ferries will therefore allow the next contract to fully incorporate the outcome of the final Ferries Plan which was published on 19 December 2012. The final Ferries Plan – the Scottish Government’s vision for ferry services – provides a blueprint for ferry services right across Scotland over the next decade with the new Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service contract at its heart.’

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Related Articles & Comments

  • CalMac do a fantastic job and have won several top awards from the transport industry. Why change what already works. How much does this tendering process cost the taxpayer everytime?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 8

    MScot September 10, 2013 11:14 am Reply
    • PS The tendering has to be done to satisfy EU regulations.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

      Paul Graham September 10, 2013 12:34 pm Reply
    • I always equate such awards to the size of an organisation’s PR budget. How big is Calmac’s PR budget and what proportion of that is taxpayer money?

      How many admin/”marketing” man/woman years do Calmac devote to chasing such awards?

      By contrast, how many shore staff, never mind PR staff, do Western Ferries employ?

      (Next to none is the answer to Q3.)

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3

      pm September 12, 2013 11:23 am Reply
      • Western Ferries don’t need a pr budget ‘ thay have people like you doing that for them. ( do they pay you for doing so???)

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

        Iain September 15, 2013 11:05 am Reply
  • CalMac do a job as best they can given what they have to work with and the severe restrictions placed upon them by RMT.
    I remain sceptical about the awards i.e. The Guardian readers award. How many Guardian readers use the ferries on a daily/weekly or monthly basis. Public transport awards….how many candidates? No reflection on the on board or shore based staff.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 5

    Paul Graham September 10, 2013 12:33 pm Reply
    • can you explain to me what restrictions the rmt have placed upon calmac ?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

      mclovin September 10, 2013 5:36 pm Reply
      • You are quite correct. Restriction probably not the right word.
        RMT represent their members(and do so very well) but the T&C’s of employment are pretty incredible. 2 on 2 off plus holidays. Not as if they are at sea but tied up every night. Better deal than “Foreign Going” crews who are actually away from home for months and not in their beds at night. Historic conditions I know but every other person in work has had to take changes in conditions and pay in those difficult times, like or lump it. Not having a go at the union per say however the costs for CalMac are spiralling every year and that costs us, the tax payer without any enhancement of service to the users.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 10

        Paul Graham September 10, 2013 6:50 pm Reply
        • Sounds as if a lot of money would be saved if ferry crews were local people, could usually go home at night, and could enjoy a more settled lifestyle.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 14

          Robert Wakeham September 10, 2013 7:19 pm Reply
          • what about ports like uig ,and kennacraig ,also late sailings and early starts , the rmt are fighting for uk seafarers ,in a time that some companies are exploiting foreign crews with low pay and bad working conditions and practises ,

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 7

            mclovin September 10, 2013 7:27 pm
          • What about them? Are you seriously suggesting that because such places aren’t towns like Oban or Stornoway, it’s not possible for crew to live within reasonable reach? It sounds a bit like a ‘can’t do’ mentality, and I’d be interested to know how the multitude of ferries in Norway are crewed – some of them seem to operate out of places a good deal wilder and more remote than anywhere here.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 14

            Robert Wakeham September 10, 2013 7:37 pm
          • One of the boats that used to sail to Islay had its crew living ashore. But the Government, and the Unions, made sure that it didn’t sail beyond 1981.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

            Jim Williamson September 10, 2013 9:34 pm
          • JW, I think you may have been too light on the irony. Do you mean the boats owned by the operator that dare not speak its name, Western Ferries? That’s the operator who said in the 1970s that if Calmac’s Islay subsidy was transferred to them, they could carry all the Islay car and passenger traffic free of charge?

            That would have been a bit of a blow for the Calmac gravy train and not something that the ideologues in the Labour government of the day would have dared to countenance far less encourage, “ownership of means of production” (at any cost) and all that.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

            pm September 11, 2013 10:55 am
    • And there was me thinking the union were there to act on behalf of the staff, not for the staff to be led by the nose by the Union.

      The staff have every right to instruct the union to represent them in a way that they believe is in the best interests of them and the company. By definition, these severe restrictions alluded to are only there because thats what the staff want.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

      Jerry McIver September 11, 2013 10:26 pm Reply
  • kennacraig has 2 boats with 25 crew on each boat x 2 , that’s 100 people ,plus holiday cover .ok 1 boat could be berth out of islay that’s still 50 plus crew , how many captains ,engineers etc etc live in these remote places

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

    mclovin September 10, 2013 8:00 pm Reply
    • Remote from Gourock maybe, but remote? – and a considerable number of Calmac crew seem to be islanders, although probably not from the island that they’re serving.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 11

      Robert Wakeham September 10, 2013 8:18 pm Reply
    • “How many captains, engineers, etc., live in these remote areas?” Well … all of them if you make it a condition of their employment, just like for the rest of us living in the real world.

      It’s not as if it’s someplace out of Joseph Conrad.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 8

      pm September 11, 2013 10:41 am Reply
      • WF didn’t seem to find it difficult to employ crew who lived locally, when they pioneered a fit-for-purpose Islay service.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 9

        Robert Wakeham September 11, 2013 12:29 pm Reply
        • Whoever gave this the thumbs down doesn’t understand that ferries are an essential part of the west coast infrastructure – but that this doesn’t (or shouldn’t) mean that they can be ‘milked’ as job creation schemes.
          I wonder if current Calmac staffing arrangements actually reduce the likelihood of crew living locally?

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 8

          Robert Wakeham September 11, 2013 1:37 pm Reply
          • why don’t you contact them and ask .

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5

            mclovin September 11, 2013 2:35 pm
      • WF’s “Sound of Jura” could carry 40 cars and 235 passengers, and made 3 round trips per day. Manning was 3 crews of six, all of whom lived locally. Plus a girl in the cafeteria, working for herself. There was a crew mess and showers etc but no live-aboard facilities, which require extra steelwork, weight, and windage, all of which has to be propelled back and forth along with the revenue load. Installed power on the Sound of Jura was 1450 KW for 13.5 kts service speed.
        North Sea supply vessels work 24 hrs per day with 2 crews ( 8-10 men each )
        4 wks on/ 4 wks off and no holiday relief. Most Calmac ferries tie up for some hrs each night.
        Who’s hard done by ?

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 6

        Arthur Blue September 11, 2013 7:47 pm Reply
        • A crew of six? compared with twenty on Calmac’s service on the same route? can that be right?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

          Robert Wakeham September 11, 2013 8:04 pm Reply
  • When I look at the ‘thumbsdown’ that I, and JW, have got recently – and the ‘thumbsup’ for ‘mclovin’ – it looks to me as if maybe the RMT does indeed see the west coast ferry system as a gravy train – and ‘fighting for uk seafarers in a time when some companies are exploiting foreign crews with low pay and bad working conditions and practises’ is surely a red herring if in reality they’re fighting to preserve unnecessarily expensive operating practises.
    I’m not aware that WF or Pentland Ferries are exploiting their crews or have low pay and bad working conditions, but I’d be very surprised if they weren’t a good deal more cost effective than Calmac.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

    Robert Wakeham September 11, 2013 6:16 pm Reply
    • I think its unfair to compare ,wf and pentland against calmac .

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

      mclovin September 11, 2013 7:14 pm Reply
      • How come unfair ? Calmac and Northlink subsidy has been steadily spiralling, nearly £90m in 2008/2009 and well over £100m now. Why
        should their operations not be subject to scrutiny and comparison ?

        Who is “Mclovin” anyway ? RMT ?

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 5

        Arthur Blue September 11, 2013 7:34 pm Reply
      • Unfair to compare six crew with twenty crew?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5

        Robert Wakeham September 11, 2013 8:07 pm Reply
      • Why unfair? They provide exactly the same basic service, a maritime crossing linking an island to the mainland. Calmac choose to do this with large crews and outdated working practices with little care about how much this costs because the taxpayer will always pick up the tab, whereas Pentland and Western both have to operate in a commercially viable way and have found alternative ways to do it at much lower cost.
        Not all west coast routes can operate viably and thats where the taxpayer should step in but in fairness to Calmac they have evolved this way because they have been allowed to with the confidence that whatever happens, the taxpayer will always pay. It is for the Scottish Government and the Transport Minister to get a grip and force a turnaround of this mess if they ever want to reduce the costs.
        This is a transport link, not a job creation scheme.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

        Jerry McIver September 12, 2013 5:50 pm Reply
  • serco have shed 36 jobs since taking over ,and does the taxpayer get the money back ? no ,that goes to the serco shareholders .

    is mclovin rmt ? no …fuel costs have also been spiralling as you well know if your a car owner .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

    mclovin September 11, 2013 7:39 pm Reply
    • If fuel costs are spiralling then all the more reason to use economical vessels.

      You’re right about Serco, but because Serco etc is not the answer it doesn’t mean
      that there isn’t a problem with Calmac

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5

      Arthur Blue September 11, 2013 8:57 pm Reply
      • economical ferrys cost money ,and take time to build ,and then whos pay,ing for them ?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

        mclovin September 12, 2013 8:57 am Reply
        • I can give you a figure for that. 70m Standard mid water ferry £14M approx with economical engines with zero emissions. Finlaggan £24M approx. burning heavy oil.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6

          Paul Graham September 12, 2013 9:21 am Reply
    • Serco bid was less than north links that’s why they won. Hence the taxpayers are saving money.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

      Peter Wade September 11, 2013 11:08 pm Reply
      • cant you post the link to back up your post ?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

        mclovin September 12, 2013 8:58 am Reply
      • serco are still getting the same subsidy that northlink would have got.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

        mclovin September 12, 2013 12:35 pm Reply
        • Doesn’t that just mean that if Northlink had won again and hadn’t got rid of 36 staff or made any of the changes that Serco did then the subsidy now would have been even higher?
          If Serco have made changes that are offsetting large increases in fuel cost and other things that nobody has control over so the subsidy is as contained as it can be then thats exactly the benefit that Government has bought and is why they are happy for profits to be made.
          There are two alternatives, start to seriously slash services and cut vessels or find even more money to keep it running whether that comes from charging passengers more or making less available to other important public spending budgets like health, education, social services or police.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

          Jerry McIver September 12, 2013 6:04 pm Reply
          • I believe northlink were going to make massive cost cutting measures had they won the contract , the spotlight seams always to be on these lifeline ferry services and yet millions upon millions are wasted every year on the railways. yet again private companies stealing taxpayers money …its a sham

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

            mclovin September 12, 2013 7:08 pm
          • If they were, why make the point about Serco cutting 36 jobs? It sounds like some or all of the jobs and changes were going whoever won.
            Why is money wasted on railways? The government are aiming at getting a 75% contribution to the running costs from passengers and 25% by state support and are only a few years away by focusing hard on efficiency and reducing operating costs.
            The running cost of ferries is consistently well over 50% subsidy and getting ever larger. The waste is on not aggressively reforming the ferries to bring more cost efficient solutions and just pouring ever more money into the status quo. Ferries are needed and some will always need support but they don’t need to cost what they do now. Pentland and Western have proven that beyond all doubt.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

            Jerry McIver September 13, 2013 9:37 am
  • Travelled to Islay several times by Western Ferries for work reasons and a most unpleasant journey we had at times. Travelling by choice for me personally was always Cal-Mac for the comfort of my family. After all these years it’s nice to see Mr Blue still has a grudge against Cal-Mac.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5

    James Walsh September 11, 2013 10:19 pm Reply
    • You are wasting your time, you will never convince them that calmac provide a good service, all they se is (that becon of light) that is western ferries..
      As for public subsadies, do they realise that buses & trains also get public subsadies, or is it just the ferry subsadies they objet too..

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 10

      Iain September 12, 2013 10:21 am Reply
      • Nobody said CalMac don’t provide a good service. What people have said it that they provide a horrendously expensive one.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

        Jim Williamson September 12, 2013 10:33 am Reply
        • calmac fares are set by your snp government. lets stop the calmac bashing .

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 10

          mclovin September 12, 2013 12:32 pm Reply
        • Western Ferries is not cheap by any means it’s £22.30 return for a car & £ 8.10 per passenger. do you think that’s value for money? the passanger facilities are basic. (argyll ferries) charge £7.20

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

          Iain September 12, 2013 12:40 pm Reply
          • You’re not comparing like-for-like. The £8.10 Western return is valid indefinitely, the AF £7.20 is a five-day return.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

            Jim Williamson September 13, 2013 9:54 am
    • When Western Ferries began their roll-on roll-off Islay service, the MacBrayne’s service consisted, in total, of the Lochiel mailboat, small, shallow draughted to negotiate the West Loch, and on which cars had to be carried as deck cargo, loaded in wire nets by derrick. That, plus occasional calls by derrick loaded cargo boats.

      Magically, and almost immediately, in face of this upstart’s threat, MacBrayne were awarded money by the Labour government to build, first, the Iona (too deep for the West Loch), then more to modify the shallow draught Arran to fill in, and soon after, more again to build the Pioneer which was designed to access the West Loch pier. Argyll council also pumped money into completely rebuilding the West Loch pier for the Calmac service, converting it to a ro-ro ferry terminal, money down the drain in fact, because within two or three years, Calmac had migrated to Western Ferries’ more suitable terminal at Kennacraig, enabling them finally to install the Iona on the route, ten years late. All of that capital expenditure, much of it entirely abortive, was at taxpayer expense, performed with the quite deliberate and overt purpose of stymieing an efficient, non-subsidised, private competitor.

      I wonder how long Islay would have had to put up with the subsidised, complacent, MacBrayne’s antiquated 1930s-style service had Western Ferries never existed.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

      pm September 12, 2013 11:04 am Reply
      • I’ve heard it said that Argyll County Council was planning a new-build ro-ro terminal further down West Loch Tarbert from Kennacraig before Calmac transferred to Kennacraig, but I don’t know how far they got with that project.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

        Robert Wakeham September 12, 2013 11:23 am Reply
  • Travelled with WF on the Islay route because it was more cost effective (£11 return versus £29 return for a vehicle) and it ran on a shorter route. As far as I remember Sound of Jura was a much better sea boat than the old Arran. I’m sure Arthur Blue could confirm pricing.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

    Paul Graham September 12, 2013 8:10 am Reply
  • 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.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 10

    ferryman September 13, 2013 11:52 pm Reply
    • If you can be bothered to search for it, the only definitive statement on “lifeline service” is one given by Orkney or Shetland Islands Council. No other public body in Scotland dares to commit itself to a formal definition.

      Search Google. I’m sorry, I don’t have the link.

      Despite their claims, a very small proportion of Calmac’s services would qualify if the definition was to be rigorously enforced.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

      pm September 14, 2013 12:40 am Reply
      • There’s an analogy with the debate on what should be designated a ‘trunk road’.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

        Robert Wakeham September 14, 2013 12:53 am Reply
    • While the definition of ‘lifeline’ is more ethereal than concrete, nowhere with the first class road access Dunoon enjoys could possibly qualify for a ‘lifeline’ ferry service in any terms.
      Campbeltown is more remote than Dunoon, with must worse passages of road and it doesn’t have a ferry.
      Transport Scotland has the EC looking over its shoulder on the subsidy front, so suggesting that it can make decisions unilaterally is misleading.
      Had the Dunoon-Gourock Ferry Action Group not become fixated on a town centres vehicle service – which could not be more unnecessary or more obstructive to whatever regeneration of the town centre is eventually possible – they could have won for the town the change that really does matter: getting as reliable as possible a passenger service between the two town centres. Whether or not they come to focus on that at some stage, they have lost valuable time in going for an unachievable and unnecessary target.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

      newsroom September 14, 2013 8:45 am Reply
      • FIRST CLASS ROAD, you are having a laugh, only thing first class about the road is the potholes & the land slides, if the road was that good wf would not be as busy as they are..

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

        Iain September 16, 2013 11:34 am Reply
      • Iain, guess you like bitter even when you go out drinking.

        Western are busy because of the potholes and landslides, what rubbish. Perhaps Western are busy because its cheaper and faster to take the ferry.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

        Peter Wade September 16, 2013 2:30 pm Reply
        • Lol, aye very good, western are busy because they have the monopoly on the crossing now, not very bright are you???

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

          Iain September 17, 2013 9:27 am Reply
          • Iain, you were the one that suggested that there was a link between the road and western ferries.

            western ferries have always been busy despite the road and the town centre service.

            In comparison to you, a black hole is brighter. LOL.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

            Peter Wade September 17, 2013 10:26 am
    • More ill-informed ‘fact’ from ferryman.

      A written answer was given at Hollywood a couple of weeks ago.

      “Jackie Baillie (Dumbarton) (Scottish Labour): To ask the Scottish Government what criteria apply to the designation of ferry services as lifeline services.
      (S4W-16672)

      Keith Brown: The Scottish Ferry Services: Ferries Plan (2013-2022) identifies “lifeline” in its glossary of terms as “A lifeline ferry service is required in order for a community to be viable.””

      I really wish that the DGFAG ‘experts’ would do some proper research now and again.

      Yawnnnnnn.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

      Jim Williamson September 14, 2013 10:57 am Reply
    • Well well ferryman is back, still stuck in a rut. Aka robert Trebus. Why oh why is he scared to be honest about his own name. Anything said on this blog by him is tainted by this cover up.
      The Gourock dunoon service is a lifeline route, however it’s Western Ferries that provide it at zero cost to the tax payer, that’s the analogy.
      What’s also different is that their fares are cheaper and employ so many locals, the local sponsorship and of course the free ambulance service. Despite all the millions given to Calmac no where do they archive this level of community involvement or frequency.
      If I was Kieth brown I would give them all CalMacs routes and simply ask them to replicate their model over the network.
      Ferryman’s obsession with the return of a vehicle service is futile and in the end him and his merry men at the action group, will need to accept that. Only then will the issues with Argyll ferries be resolved.
      Perhaps robert is keeping his secret identity as he doesn’t want people to recognise his ignorance when he shops in dunoon or when he uses WEstern’s service.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

      Peter Wade September 15, 2013 12:35 am Reply
  • “A lifeline ferry service is required in order for a community to be viable.”

    So Dunoon is lifeline then – good.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

    ferryman September 14, 2013 6:59 pm Reply
    • The key point is in the interpretation of the word “viable”.

      I wonder what the viability of Cowal and the rest of the west coast communities would have looked like today had Western Ferries never arrived on the scene, when in so doing they triggered such a panicked wholesale shake-up of the somnolent CSP/MacBrayne operations.

      More than half the present population weren’t alive to see it, and many who were have forgotten, but the Calmac/CSP/MacBrayne network at the time Western Ferries was inaugurated was dreadful. Parsimonious timetables were operated by a fleet consisting of 1920s-style derrick loaded mailboats and a handful of car ferries.

      All of of the latter were fitted with the slow, half-baked hoist loading system, a strange arrangement found nowhere else but on the nationalised operations on the west coast of Scotland. This meant that at busy periods even the newest vessels spent more time loading and unloading than they did ferrying, quaint and obsolete as they were from the outset, and schedules all too often went by the board.

      There was not one proper ro-ro ferry in the entire nationalised fleet. WF’s presence shamed them into immediate change.

      It was no surprise that the first Calmac services to be modernised were the ones where WF had become established, followed by the routes WF might well have stepped into had they not been the victim of a hugely damaging vendetta sponsored by the ideological government of the day.

      What do we have to show for all of that? Calmac: a never-to-be-sated job-creation money sink, much lke a British Leyland of the ferry world. An Old Labour concoction that time forgot.

      Remote communities with fragile viability: even Dunoon was heading towards fitting that bill in the days when Calmac had it all to themselves.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

      pm September 15, 2013 12:10 am Reply
      • Now, western have it all there own way, it’s going back to those dark days once again..

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

        Iain September 16, 2013 11:40 am Reply
  • In the early years Western Ferries were managed by the shipping company, Harrison’s in Glasgow. Obviously they steered them on the correct passage to take.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

    Dunoon Lad September 15, 2013 10:33 pm Reply

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