Comment posted Russell stance on Argyll Ferries raises serious questions by ferryman.
Just for information Caledonian MacBrayne Limited which newsroom described as “the long established ferry operator” appears to be a dormant company incorporated in 2006. I’ll stick with the common usage of CalMac to mean the whole group.
Regarding the Minister being at odds with the government it does not seem to me that he is. The question that was asked of the Government appeared to be related mainly to reliability and, unfortunately, the Transport Scotland contract neglects all failures to sail due to the weather from reliability figures so the current service performs well to the lamentable contract. Our MSP on the other hand has been flagging up that Argyll Ferries have been ignorant of conditions they should be operating to. Two quite different things.
Ministers rely on Civil Servants. The Civil Servants botched the contract. Perhaps not surprisingly the Civil Servants have probably not been flagging up to Ministers that to keep the service running at all rules have been bent. That has been left to a Whistleblower and our MSP.
ferryman also commented
- You need to make a choice about whether or not there is to be a town centre ferry service.
Assuming a town centre service is required (the EU rated it as an essential service), then you need large vessels to make it reliable. This was known from the Deloitte Touche report which said “large hulled” vessels were needed on the Firth of Clyde.
If you wish you can then run these large vessels just passenger only. Alternatively you can carry vehicles on them reducing the subsidy required and so making them more economic – that is what I mean.
The stunning incompetence of Transport Scotland was to spend £2M on small vessels, plus a subsidy for them, then be surprised they cannot run and so wish to add £4M for pontoons (which serve no purpose) plus additional costs for a larger replacement for the AliCat. The net result of the current fiasco is that the cost of decent ferry will be spent on a service that still will not function.
By not function I mean that not only are the users of the Argyll Ferries service suffering but regular car drivers are also having difficulties and those foot passengers that have abandoned Argyll Ferries have ongoing problems because the buses don’t get on the vehicle ferries reliably. Meanwhile Inverclyde Council contemplate spending yet more money for a ring road to cope with the diverted traffic. All round a total and utter expensive mess.
- The only way to sort the passenger only service is to use larger vessels. Once you use larger vessels to be economic they have to carry vehicles – simples.
- The primary fault is that the SNP went back on their promise to deliver two vehicle ferries for the route. The reasons for this have never been explained particularly as substantial investment in infrastructure, including funding from the EU, to support vehicle ferries had already been put in place.
The secondary fault is that the passenger only service put in place has been a failure since the outset. The implementation of the service is down to Transport Scotland but the Government are supposedly in control of them.
Furthermore the Government created a private monopoly of cross Firth of Clyde vehicle traffic and effectively gifted some 60,000 vehicle crossings per annum to Western Ferries.
- Do our road bridges make a profit, our tunnels or roads even – no. We accept that infrastructure has to be put in place at a national level. In the case of the East of Scotland that involves spending billions on a free to use bridge.
Where there are islands or peninsulas that infrastructure should include ferries and the very limited funding that would be required for a modern, efficient, seaworthy fleet.
- The frequency has doubled but but the rate of cancellations has far more than doubled. That is because the old service used larger ships that could cope with the weather and the new service uses bathtubs which cannot.
The bathtubs are cancelling and being disrupted for days at a time in summer weather, something that simply did not happen at all with the former ships.
If you don’t understand the car argument how about; your child not getting taught because their teacher is late, or nurses not being available in hospital because they are late, or students being late for lectures. This is supposed to be a commuter service!
Over the course of many years, and on the back of Government promises, people have built their lives around there being a reliable town center ferry service.
Suddenly that reliable service has been removed.
There are going to be to gradual but very predictable consequences of this. Firstly people who need to use the service regularly will tend to leave the area. Secondly new blood who might move to the area intending to commute will not come. The end result will be ongoing economic decline for Cowal and Dunoon.
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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