Breakdown cancellations prompt call for ferry plan review

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Almost 800 CalMac sailings were cancelled last year because of mechanical breakdowns, figures have revealed.

Scottish Greens transport spokesperson and Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie has now called on the Scottish Government to urgently review its ferries plan in light of the new figures.

According to the figures obtained from CalMac by Mr Finnie, 780 services were cancelled for technical reasons in 2018, 150 more than in 2017.

Mr Finnie said: ‘The Scottish Government has a duty to provide good quality ferry services to support rural and island communities.

‘CalMac runs lifeline services and contributes significantly to local economies, particularly with regard to the important tourist trade. However, my constituents need to have confidence that, outwith extreme weather events, services will run as planned.’

He added: ‘The Transport Secretary must urgently review the ferries plan to ensure CalMac has a fleet that is fit for purpose and can be relied upon. As vessels get older, they require to spend more time in dry dock for repair. Steps must be taken to ensure the long-term sustainability of Scotland’s ferry services.’

A CalMac spokesman said: ‘Over the past months we have introduced new in-service maintenance teams, preventative maintenance regimes, and targeted investment to help keep vessels in good running order.

‘This, along with other improvements in planned maintenance and procurement, made possible partly through the Scottish Government’s £3.5 million Resilience Fund, will improve the technical resilience of the fleet.

‘We acknowledge that losing 780 sailings due to technical breakdown is too many and causes inconvenience to passengers but in the context of nearly 145,000 timetabled departures this represents around one cancelled in every 200 sailings.’