Ferry Problems Getting Worse In The Scottish Fleet
31st August 2021
Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has again written to the Transport Minister Graeme Dey demanding Scottish Government address the urgent issues facing Scotland's Ferry Fleet.
Following CalMac's announcement that it had been forced to amend timetables as the MV Hebrides was from the rotation for urgent repairs, it became clear that some communities were facing loss of their ferry service for days.
Rhoda Grant said: "Some of my constituents are struggling with the lack of ability to travel from home for medical and family reasons, others are owners of accommodation businesses, already irreversibly affected by Covid, who are now seeing much needed bookings being cancelled and income lost as travellers cannot reach their destination.
"This is not a one off. The loss of the Loch Seaforth and its impact across the network earlier this summer was almost catastrophic and cost the islands greatly.
"The urgent repairs of the MV Hebrides promise to be painful. These incidents have happened in the summer, which although struggling with high capacity, does not have the added burden of winter storms and break downs. The fleet and their crews are going to be put under enormous pressure over winter."
Mrs Grant added: "The fleet that Cal Mac is being forced to work with is decrepit. It is old and over-stretched and new vessels have not been delivered as promised. This is a crisis and it is very likely going to get worse rather than better.
"A new programme of ferries, not one or two, needs to be commissioned urgently and put into manufacture. Even then that is the solution to the long term management, which has been atrocious over the last 15 years, and will take years to show progress.
"In the meantime extra tonnage is required as a matter of urgency. Many of my constituents are at the end of their tether, and if we want to support Scottish islands, investment needs to be shown or we will lose everything that makes them unique and welcoming. Scotland's ferries are certainly not providing the lifeline service promised, because they are unable to. If we are to prevent further catastrophic de-population in the Scottish islands - one of our most valuable assets - then a reliable transport network is one of the very basic requirements."
Following sea trials on the Clyde in early 2001, Hebrides made her way round to Uig, Tarbert and Lochmaddy, conducting berthing trials at the three linkspans. Uig and Tarbert piers had to be extended to accommodate the new, larger vessel. On entry into service on 24 March 2001 she displaced MV Hebridean Isles to Islay. Her service speed is 16.5 knots (30.6 km/h; 19.0 mph).
Hebrides is due to be replaced on the Uig Triangle by a new ferry, one of two dual-fuel vessels being built at Ferguson Marine shipyard in Port Glasgow on the Clyde. After much delay, the new ferry, known as Hull 802, is expected to be named by public vote, with delivery due in early 2023.
24 June 2021
Ferguson Marine announces further delay of new ferries
CalMac operate a fleet of over 30 ships that sail to and from Scotland's West Coast
North of Scotland
Ferries in the north are operated by Pentland Ferries and Serco Northlink Ferries Ltd. The ferries are much newer than the ferries operated on the west coast
PHOTO from Wikiepedia
Serco NorthLink Ferries recorded more than 8,000 journeys during the start of 2021 as it continues to support essential travel. The service remains aligned to the Scottish Government's Strategic Framework, with NorthLink Ferries providing key worker, essential islander and freight connectivity between the Northern Isles and mainland Scotland.
Serco NorthLink Ferries is continuing to maintain vital transport links over the autumn and winter period - following the opening of its 2021 booking system at the start of October. The service remains aligned to the Scottish Government's Strategic Framework, and while passenger and car volumes are down significantly year-on-year they have shown further signs of strengthening over the last few months.
An 'old friend' returns to Gills Bay after an absence of manymonths. The 2,400 tonne 70 m.
Here is the Normand Cutter, the Norwegian-owned offshore construction vessel that has been the base for works on Simec Atlantis Energy's (SAE's) MeyGen site in the Pentland Firth's Inner Sound, off Gills Bay during the current neap-tide sequence, that has lasted most of the week commencing 11.08.20. Picture by retired C of S Kirk Minister the Rev Lyall Rennie, who lives at Lower Warse, Canisbay, on the shores of Gills Bay..
Four-legged friends can now travel with their owners between the Scottish mainland and Orkney and Shetland - thanks to new pet-friendly cabins on NorthLink Ferries passenger vessels MV Hamnavoe, MV Hjaltland and MV Hrossey. Each ship has two pet-friendly cabins available which have en-suite facilities, side-by-side lower twin bunks and tea and coffee making facilities.
Serco NorthLink Ferries has been operating a revised service during Phase 1 and 2 of lockdown, which has provided travel for key workers as well as essential islander and freight connectivity between the Northern Isles and mainland Scotland. During the period 22 March to 30 June, passenger numbers across all routes were 6,010 in comparison to 112,416 over the same period in 2019, representing a reduction of 95 per cent.
Serco NorthLink Ferries continues to request that travellers stay at home and help to save lives as the company was forced to refuse travel to 23 passengers since 22 March. As part of the national effort to deal with the current public health crisis, NorthLink Ferries has been monitoring passengers' reasons for travelling, which are captured during the booking process, and denying travel to or from the Northern Isles to those who disclose non-essential reasons.
A new temporary timetable has been introduced by Serco NorthLink Ferries, designed to continue to provide a lifeline service between mainland Scotland and the Northern Isles whilst reflecting travel demand during the COVID-19 outbreak. In line with advice from the Scottish Government and health officials, restrictions have been implemented in recent weeks to allow only necessary travel, resulting in a significant reduction in passenger numbers.
Stuart Garrett, Serco's Managing Director of NorthLink Ferries, said: "The wellbeing of our passengers and staff is always our top priority and since the outset of COVID-19 we have taken all the necessary precautions to ensure their health and safety. We have followed relevant guidelines and advice from the Government and health officials and continue to do so.
The MV Hamnavoe is due to be in dry dock from 13th to 26th January 2020 (inclusive), and there will be additional north and southbound calls into Kirkwall by the MV Hrossey and MV Hjaltland. During this time the MV Helliar will provide a replacement service on the Pentland Firth route.