Every reasonable person accepts that any transport systems can experience delays and cancellations, but this number is completely unacceptable.John Finnie MSP
John Finnie MSP, Scottish Greens Transport and Islands spokesperson, this afternoon (24/04/2018) raised major disruption to CalMac services with the Minister for Transport and Islands at Topical Questions, following reports that serious disruption is expected on the network until the end of May.
Mr Finnie revealed figures showing that there were 3,852 cancellations on Calmac services in the last five years, caused as a result of mechanical failure.
The average age of Calmac ferries on the Clyde and Hebrides routes is 23 years, with older vessels needing to spend longer in dry dock for repair.
Mr Finnie highlighted a lack of coordination between Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL), who own and maintain the vessels, and CalMac and asked the Minister whether he believed given the disruption that the Vessels Replacement and Deployment Plan published earlier this year was fit for purpose.
John Finnie also highlighted that the Scottish Government’s Ferries Plan 2012-2023 recommended the replacement of the majority of Calmac’s fleet, however CMAL are entirely responsible for the procurement process. John asked the Minister if he sees a role for the public sector operator and Trade Unions earlier in the procurement process.
Following Topical Questions, John Finnie said:
“Ferries provide lifeline services to island communities, and support the hugely important tourist trade. The figures I have obtained from CalMac reveal an astonishing number of cancellations caused by mechanical breakdowns. Every reasonable person accepts that any transport systems can experience delays and cancellations, but this number is completely unacceptable.
“The Scottish Government’s own documents acknowledge that there needs to be wide scale replacement of the existing Calmac fleet, and our island communities are crying out for more reliable services. I am pleased that the Minister agreed to consider my suggestion of including CalMac and Trade Unions in discussions early in the procurement process, a move I believe would greatly improve procurement."