Russell gives a ‘thumbs-up’ to new timetable
THE Scottish government has announced plans for west coast ferry services from summer 2016.
Among the proposed enhancements revealed on Tuesday are a daily direct return service between Oban-Barra, a daily direct return service between Lochboisdale-Mallaig, an additional 50 weekly sailings on the Oban- Craignure route, and a 30 per cent increase in capacity on services to Coll, Tiree and Colonsay.
Transport minister, Derek Mackay MSP, said: ‘This timetable offers more sailings and gets the most from our ferry fleet.
‘It will also help manage the increased demand from the full roll- out of Road Equivalent Tariff (RET), which introduces significantly reduced fares. And we have also placed an order for two new major vessels in 2018.’
Cautiously welcoming the news, Michael Russell, the MSP for Argyll and Bute, said: ‘Two significant areas of concern remain. Islay has had significant problems with ferry reliability this year and islanders are very concerned about any possible erosion of the overall capacity on the Kennacraig route which requires not just two vessels, but two large vessels.
‘Islay is not only a tourist destination, it also produces a very substantial amount of whisky and has a strong agricultural trade. There must be a commitment to that route.
‘The people of Kintyre are also keen to get a firm commitment to the continuation of the Ardrossan service which has just completed its three-year pilot phase.
‘It has worked well but a more flexible timetable is needed to fit in with the realities of holiday lets and the needs of local people.
‘I am glad that the minister has agreed to meet a delegation from Campbeltown in October.’