Ferry re­pair bill has al­most dou­bled, new fig­ures re­veal

The Herald on Sunday - - VOICES -

THE re­pair bill to the age­ing Gov­ern­ment-owned ferry fleet in Scot­land has more than dou­bled in a decade to al­most £20 mil­lion a year.

In a writ­ten an­swer to the Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives, the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment con­firmed the cost of ferry re­pairs has in­creased year on year to £20m.

Spend­ing was £8m in 2007, and in 2017 it was £20m. The to­tal bill was just short of £139m.

A num­ber of fer­ries are be­ing built for use in Scot­land at present – a pri­vately-funded 100-car ca­pac­ity ferry at a cost of £14m and two £50m-plus hy­brid green fer­ries cur­rently be­ing built at Fer­gu­son’s ship­yard in Glas­gow, called the Glen San­nox and the 802 – while a fur­ther boat is in the pipe­line for Is­lay.

Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives said this rep­re­sented “a stag­ger­ing in­crease of 250 per cent since the SNP has been in power”.

The Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives have said this demon­strates the ferry fleet on the Clyde and He­brides is “on its knees” due to SNP in­ac­tion.

The av­er­age age of Scot­land’s ferry fleet is 20 years but 10 per cent are more 30 years old. The av­er­age op­er­at­ing age of a ves­sel is 25 years. The old­est fer­ries still in use are more than 30 years in ser­vice in­clud­ing the Isle of Cum­brae, Loch Striven, the Isle of Mull and the Lord of the Isles.

Jamie Greene, Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive trans­port spokesman, said: “This stag­ger­ing cost of re­pair­ing the Scot­tish ferry fleet truly shows the fleet is on its knees.

“The SNP should have be­gun to re­new our fleet 10 years ago. In­stead the pub­lic is stuck pay­ing out vast sums for in­creas­ingly ex­pen­sive re­pair jobs on our age­ing fleet.

“Ul­ti­mately, this poorly main­tained fleet will only con­tinue to cause de­lays and can­cel­la­tions for pas­sen­gers who rely on this method of trans­port.

“The SNP gov­ern­ment is wast­ing mil­lions of pounds of pub­lic money pa­per­ing over the cracks of a ferry fleet that should have been re­placed long ago.”

As re­ported by The Her­ald last month, Cale­do­nian MacBrayne has presided over nearly 120 can­celled or de­layed sail­ings each week for over a decade, new fig­ures re­veal.

More than 70,000 Scot­tish fer­ries have been de­layed or can­celled on routes op­er­ated by CalMac since 2007, ac­cord­ing to new data.

Fig­ures in­di­cate sail­ings on 29 routes over the pe­riod were de­layed 34,124 times and can­celled 39,314 times.

It means that in 11 years the equiv­a­lent of around 128 sail­ings a week have been de­layed or can­celled.

The worst-af­fected routes in­clude those run­ning be­tween Ar­drossan and Brod­ick, and We­myss Bay and Rothe­say.

Scot­land’s main ferry op­er­a­tor had al­ready warned of dis­rup­tion dur­ing the sum­mer be­cause of break­downs in its age­ing fleet.

The Glen San­nox is a new hi-tech ferry be­ing built at Fer­gu­son’s in Glas­gow. How­ever, it has been be­set by de­lays

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