Following a detailed assessment of ferry provision on the key Stornoway-Ullapool route, Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), along with colleagues from CalMac Ferries and Scottish Government presented their findings at a public meeting this evening, to enable residents of Lewis and Harris to hear firsthand about future plans for this service.
The assessment, which followed a STAG (Scottish Transport Appraisal Guidance) and subsequent detailed technical and financial analysis, looked at a number of options for future ferry provision.
The route is currently served by two ships - MV ISLE OF LEWIS which provides a vehicle passenger service and the MV MUIRNEAG which provides a freight only overnight service. MV MUIRNEAG will be withdrawn from service in October 2013.
Options being considered include a replacement freight only vessel, a slightly smaller passenger vehicle ferry to supplement the Isle of Lewis, two replacement passenger vehicle ferries and provision of one larger vehicle passenger ferry.
Whilst no decisions have yet been taken by Scottish Government, following very careful consideration, the preferred option for the Boards of CMAL and David MacBrayne Limited (parent company for CalMac Ferries) is the provision of a larger 116m long Roll On Roll Off vehicle passenger ferry capable of operating 24 hours a day.
The provision of a larger ship would have a number of benefits over the other options, including a significantly improved resilience in bad weather, lower operating costs than a two ship solution and a more fuel efficient hull and machinery. The new ship would be diesel electric which would allow work to be carried out on any one of the four main engines, without affecting the operation of the ship, thereby minimising delay and disruption to ferry users.
The ship would be capable of carrying 143 cars or 20 commercial vehicles, increasing capacity on the route, and would have a service speed of 19.2 knots cutting the transit time by 15 minutes. The ship would also burn less fuel than the current ships generating significant annual savings, an important consideration with the current high cost of fuel.
CMAL is of the view that the ship is likely to cost in the region of £45 to £50 million and details of a potentially affordable funding solution has been identified.
Following further consultation with the local community and key stakeholders, it is hoped that both CMAL and CalMac will make a firm recommendation about future ferry provision to Scottish Government in the near future.
Commenting on the meeting, Guy Platten, Chief Executive of CMAL said: “We have carefully considered all of the options and believe that one larger ship to service the route will represent a significant improvement on the existing situation.
“As well as being the most cost effective option, a new ship would be more fuel efficient and reliable for passengers that use the service, minimising weather delays and ensuring that maintenance can be carried out without affecting the operation of the ship, leading to less delays and cancellations.
“However, we understand the importance of gathering the views of stakeholders before a final recommendation can be made to the Scottish Government for consideration”
Notes to Editors
- CMAL own property at piers and harbours at more than 24 locations throughout Scotland and is embarking on a programme of investment and improvements which will create better facilities.
- In addition to its pier and harbour facilities, CMAL owns 31 ferries which are leased to CalMac Ferries Ltd and Cowal Ferries Ltd.
- CMAL is a publicly owned company with Scottish Ministers as the sole shareholder.
- STAG supports the Scottish Government’s purpose by providing a clear framework to assess evidence based transport problems and opportunities. It does so by promoting robust, objective-led analysis that can be consistently applied in all transport appraisal contexts.
For further information contact Elise McDonald, Golley Slater, on 0141 204 7800 / 0131 272 2733 or email elise.mcdonald @golleyslater.co.uk