‘We’re going to need a better boat!’
An expert advisor to the Scottish Government has called for CalMac’s ageing ferry fleet to be replaced by catamarans in a move he claims will save the taxpayer £2.5 billion. Soaring demand is increasing pressure on CalMac’s fleet of 32 vessels, 10 of which are more than 30 years old. MSPs are currently reviewing the replacement vessel plan for Scotland’s ferries and Dr Alf Baird, a transport expert who advises the Scottish Government, called for rethink. Dr Baird said catamarans are substantially cheaper to build and maintain, and more economical. He said: “This solution is relatively straightforward and involves the construction of up to 30 proven and more efficient, lower cost and lower emission ferries.” Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives have called for greater transparency on a secret £15m loan from the Scottish Government to Ferguson Marine, which is building two new CalMac vessels. Ferguson Marine received two loans from SNP ministers totalling £45m; an initial loan of £15m in September 2017 and a subsequent loan of £30m in June this year. The initial loan was kept secret due to ‘commercial confidentiality’ and has only come to light after it was revealed the two new ships had been delayed and are subject to a contract wrangle.
Dr Alf Baird