Highlands & Islands

Caledonian MacBrayne finalises 'improved timetable'

Ferry Image copyright CalMac
Image caption CalMac said the summer timetable would better service island and mainland communities

Ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne has finalised what it has described as an "improved" summer timetable on its Clyde and Hebrides network.

It said that following consultation the timetable "more closely meets with the vast majority of island communities' wish list of services".

Stòras Uibhist, often a critic of CalMac, said the timetable offered improved services for the Uists.

But there has been criticism in Skye about the Mallaig-Armadale service.

Islanders have raised concerns with local MSPs about the route's MV Coruisk being replaced with two smaller ships.

CalMac said it would move the Coruisk to its Oban-Craignure route in Argyll this summer because of an expected rise in traffic due to the introduction of road equivalent tariffs, which offer lower cost fares.

The MV Lochinvar and MV Bhrusda would work in Skye's the Sound of Sleat, which the Coruisk was specially designed for.

'Downgraded service'

Sleat Transport Forum, which has been campaigning for enhancements to the Mallaig-Armadale service, said it had received an offer from CalMac to help it better promote Sleat and the rest of Skye as a tourist destination.

However, a forum spokesperson added: "It is to be regretted that this offer comes at a price of a downgraded service in real terms on the Mallaig-Armadale route this summer.

"The forum remains committed to seeing a year-round vessel dedicated to this service and in particular an improved winter schedule."

Image copyright Caledonian MacBrayne
Image caption CalMac operates Scotland's Clyde and Hebrides Ferries Services

Angus MacMillan, chairman of community company Stòras Uibhist and spokesman for Better Ferries For Lochboisdale, said the timetable better served the Uists.

He said: "This is a major step forward in meeting the aspirations of the Uist community and indeed the outer island chain."

'Closely refine'

CalMac's operations director Drew Collier said the company had listened to feedback from ferry users.

He said: "While our initial timetable met a lot of aspirations from the communities we serve, we needed to get out into the network, speak to them, and closely refine them to meet their exact needs as much as possible.

"This has been a detailed and time-consuming process and I would like to thank everyone for their patience."

He added: "I'm confident that given the resources we have, we now have in place for this summer a timetable that will meet the needs of commuters, business and visitors better than ever before."

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