Baxter: Single vessel best option for current Corran ferry service

The ferry that plies the Corran Narrows is regarded as a vital lifeline service for communities on the peninsula. NO-F47-corran-ferry-1
The ferry that plies the Corran Narrows is regarded as a vital lifeline service for communities on the peninsula. NO-F47-corran-ferry-1

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It is becoming clear that a single ferry, with changes to the slipway, is the most sustainable way of operating the Corran ferry service, according to senior local councillor Andrew Baxter.

Councillor Baxter (Fort William and Ardnamurchan), chair of Highland Council’s Lochaber Area Committee, was commenting after the area committee met earlier this month and heard an update on the project focussed on the immediate transport problems associated with the vital ferry service, recognising that actions are required to ensure its sustainability in the short to medium term.

The conclusion has been retaining two vessels is an overly expensive model, with a new, larger, straight through (Roll-on/roll-off) vessel, with refit / relief / second vessel secured from elsewhere, as the preferred vessel and slipways option.

Consideration of any future fixed link is a matter for Transport Scotland’s Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 (STPR2) and does not form part of this project.

Back in September, Highland Council’s Chief Executive and Budget Leader travelled on the Corran Ferry and visited the ferry operations offices in Ardgour, where they spent time listening to the views of staff and members of the public hearing on the localised challenges and opportunities for the ferry service.

A steering group has also been set up to ensure links between the local ommunity and council staff are maintained and everyone is given the opportunity to engage in the project.

Councillor Andrew Baxter who says it is becoming clear a single vessel is the solution. NO-F47-Andrew-Baxter
Councillor Andrew Baxter who says it is becoming clear a single vessel is the solution.
NO-F47-Andrew-Baxter

Mr Baxter told the Lochaber Times this week: ‘We are a long way from getting the council to accept that we need the funding for a replacement ferry.

‘What is becoming clear is that a single ferry, with changes to the slipway, is the most sustainable way of operating the service.

‘This would allow us to use other ferries during repairs or refit rather than relying on a permanent back-up ferry, which is a considerable cost, too small and as it gets older is less reliable.’