Ferry services thrown a lifeline with £3.5M resilience boost

A £3.5M resilience fund will be made available to deal with Scotland's aging ferry fleet. MV Clansman and the MV Caledonian Isles pictured earlier this year in Brodick.

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Scotland’s lifeline ferry services will receive £3.5 million from the Government to reduce the risk of vessels breaking down and to return them to service quicker if they do.

This additional funding will tackle obsolescence which would otherwise take the ferry out of service for extended periods and will allow for a programme of upgrades to be undertaken during this winter’s overhaul period when replacement parts for obsolete equipment will be procured.

The move was announced by Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson MSP during the Scottish Cabinet visit to Arran on Monday August 27. Mr Matheson met with representatives of the Arran Economic Forum and the Isle of Arran Ferry Committee.

Mr Matheson said: ‘We are very much aware that, as our ferries age, additional resources will be needed to keep the vessels running so our island communities stay connected.

‘These funds will be used to upgrade or replace key systems and equipment on the vessels.  This will be tackled on a priority basis to avoid potential vessel breakdowns and delays to the ferry service and inconvenience to customers.

‘During the forthcoming overhaul period this winter, CMAL and CalMac will initiate the obsolescence programme of upgrades and spare part procurement.  This will provide future resilience providing in the longer term, increased vessel reliability and availability.’

Welcoming the announcement, Arran’s MSP Kenneth Gibson added: ‘This funding will allow CMAL to take a proactive approach to upgrading on-board technology, which will reduce the risk of breakdowns and help to reduce downtime when faults do occur.

‘A more resilient fleet is a more reliable and safer fleet, and I am sure this will be warmly welcomed by Arran communities reliant on these lifeline ferry services, especially given the current difficulties being experienced.’