This afternoon, SNP MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Alasdair Allan, attended a resilience meeting with the Transport Minister and community organisations regarding the problems afflicting ferry services from Barra and South Uist to the mainland over the last five days.
During today’s meeting, Allan emphasised the need to boost the number of alternative sailings for passengers quickly in these situations to allow other options of travelling to the mainland to be utilised.
Following the meeting, the Western Isles MSP said:
“We are all very familiar with the reasons for our ferry network’s problems, not least ageing vessels and the need for extra tonnage in the fleet. There are additional vessels being built and on order, with CMAL continuing to pursue the charter or purchase of additional vessels from elsewhere. But with the existing CalMac fleet completely committed, this week’s episode proves the urgency of building resilience into our islands’ ferry network.
“Today’s meeting offered a chance to make all these points clearly to Transport Scotland and CalMac, with community groups highlighting the impact on Uist and Barra’s communities this week as a result of the recent disruption. I appreciate the Transport Minister’s engagement on this issue both with myself and the affected island communities directly. This most recent spate of technical issues on numerous vessels simultaneously lays bare the significant impact of service disruptions like this, with islands being left without a connection to the mainland for days at a time.”
Repairs on MV Isle of Lewis have now been successfully completed, and she is due to resume her normal timetable between Castlebay and Oban from tomorrow. MV Lord of the Isles is expected to sail from Oban to Lochboisdale tomorrow with passengers as soon as the necessary repairs are completed and have received MAC approval, then resume normal service.