We’ll run new freight ferry if CalMac can’t

The MV Isle of Arran which had to be removed from service twice in one month owing to technical issues.

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A determined group of businessmen are in advanced stages of investigating the possibility of proving an alternative ferry service for Arran with the possibility of  purchasing a third vessel on the main route for use by commercial traffic.

Residents and visitors have faced another difficult week of disruption both the the weather and with the MV Isle of Arran still out of service and the MV Caledonian Isles operating with a single ramp, before going into dry dock.

The redeployment of the MV Hebridean Isles has helped and she will be the in service along with the returning Caley Isles for the September weekend, with the Isle of Arran is due back on Monday.

However Scotslion Ferries Ltd – dissatisfied with the service provided by ferry operator CalMac and ferry owners CMAL – are looking into the feasibility of purchasing the MV Saturn in a bid to free up car space on the current two ferries with a new freight only service.

The consortium, which includes the new owners of the Sannox Bay Hotel, specialise in reopening empty shops, closed down hotels and rejuvenating defunct businesses and while willing to undertake this massive challenge, have said that they would prefer it if CMAL and CalMac purchased their own vessel and ran it efficiently themselves.

Russ McLean of Scotslion Ferries Ltd said: ‘If CalMac senior management secure a third ship for Arran now, we believe they are best placed to operate such a vessel and help get the islands lifeline ferry service off nautical life-support. That should help remedy many of the outstanding concerns and worries about job losses on the island.

‘However, if the state owned ferry operator continue to sail from crisis to chaos, then we will make best efforts to secure a third ship for Arran ourselves.’

Scotslion Ferries Ltd are currently investigating possible vessels with the MV Saturn near the top of the list, owing to being previously licenced and certified and classed to operate the Ardrossan to Brodick route. Stating that the vessel is not ideal  – but after a refit – she could certainly help alleviate the capacity issues until a longer term solution can be found.

The group behind the plan, then known as the Argyll Group plc, tried to get permission launch a ferry on the Arran route 14 years ago.

Scotslion Ferries Ltd are appealing for islanders, visitors, hauliers, island business, home owners and anyone else with an interest in this venture to get in touch on their website at http://calmac-enigma.co.uk/