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Ferry Problems Getting Worse In The Scottish Fleet

31st August 2021

Photograph of Ferry Problems Getting Worse In The Scottish Fleet

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."

MV Hebrides
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
STV
Ferguson Marine announces further delay of new ferries

Calmac
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
MV Hebrides

 

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