Rus­sell gives a ‘thumbs-up’ to new timetable

The Oban Times - - News -

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.’

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