Highlands & Islands

Caledonian MacBrayne sets out new contract targets

CalMac ferry at Oban Image copyright Calmac
Image caption CalMac begins its new eight-year contract later this year

Caledonian MacBrayne has said it wants to "maximise opportunities" for firms employing high numbers of people who are disabled or disadvantaged.

It is among several aims the ferry operator has set itself for the first two years of its new Clyde and Hebrides Ferries Services contract.

The firms, along with social enterprises, are to be encouraged to bid for supply contracts.

Most fresh produce offered on CalMac ferries is also to be locally sourced.

Earlier this month, the ferry company formally signed a new £900m contract to continue operating the Clyde and Hebrides Ferries Network.

State-owned CalMac had competed with private firm Serco Caledonian Ferries Limited for the Scottish government contract to run the services.

CalMac already operates the routes on the west coast of Scotland, which include the inner and outer Hebrides.

It was named the successful bidder of the new contract in May.

Image copyright CalMac
Image caption State-owned CalMac beat off competition from a private company for the new contract to run the Clyde and Hebrides Ferries Network

The contract, which was awarded by the Scottish government's Transport Scotland, covers an eight-year period from 1 October.

The deal includes a separate contract which sees CalMac taking responsibility for ferry operations at 24 ports on behalf of Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL).

CalMac has now set out aims it wants to achieve in the first two years of the new contract.

Other targets include continued investment in officer cadets and rating apprenticeships.

Trolley service

CalMac plans to work with local maritime training organisations, such as the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and City of Glasgow College, to further to develop it workforce.

The company also plans to invest £6m in "onboard, port and passenger area improvements". These include piloting a drinks trolley service which would allow passengers to buy beverages while they are seated.

Managing director Martin Dorchester said: "The new contract marks the start of a new era in ferry services on the west coast which we are delighted to be introducing.

"The last nine years have seen significant improvements to ferry services and we look forward to building on this work by taking our services, and the benefits they offer to our customers and the communities we serve, up to a new level."

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