SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, has expressed his concern at the latest disruption to ferry services to the Western Isles, which will see the Lochboisdale – Mallaig/Oban route cancelled from the 6th to the 31st March.
Engineers working on MV Clansman in dry dock discovered a substantial amount of steelwork which needed replaced, delaying the vessel’s return to service by three weeks.
CalMac plan to amend the Sound of Barra service four days per week to provide inbound and outbound connections via Castlebay in an effort to mitigate some of the impact of the prolonged disruption, and have said that they will provide an update for the 26-31 March once they have completed their further exploration of options for this period.
Commenting following the news of the cancellations on the Lochboisdale route, Allan said:
“After recent severe disruption on routes across the ferry network caused by difficult weather and technical issues, the news of additional and complex repairs being needed on another of CalMac’s ferries is the last thing islanders wanted to hear.
“One vessel being out of action unfortunately has an immediate knock-on effect on ferry services due to the lack of relief vessels. Local businesses and individuals in Uist will suffer significant inconvenience as a result of this prolonged cancellation period.
“As some of my constituents in Uist have pointed out, there are other routes which will be being served by two vessels throughout the three-week period where Lochboisdale won’t have any, and I can appreciate and share their frustration over this point.
“Resilience in the ferry fleet needs to be improved to prevent situations such as this from continuing to arise. Local communities are enduring unacceptable disruptions to what are meant to be lifeline services.”