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An announcement is expected within days on a revised timetable for the completion of the much delayed new Arran ferry.
Transport Secretary Michael Matheson last week admitted at the rural economy committee in Holyrood that the new Arran ferry might see further delays.
In response to a question from John Mason MSP, Mr Matheson said: ‘I think it remains a challenging timeline for them [Ferguson shipyard] to meet.’
After a year of delays, the £48.5 million ferry was due to be delivered by Clyde shipyard Ferguson Marinte to Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) next summer coming into service later in the year. A second sister ship is also under construction at the Port Glasgow yard.
However, there is increasing speculation that it will be 2020 before the ferry comes into service on the Ardrossan to Brodick route.
A spokesperson from CMAL said: ‘Ferguson Marine Engineering Limited provided a delivery timeline of summer 2019 for MV Glen Sannox, and spring 2020 for Hull 802. As it is now 2019, we have requested an update on the delivery timeline from the shipyard, and we are waiting for a response. We hope to receive this within January 2019, as all stakeholders will need to be fully appraised of progress.’
West of Scotland MSP Jamie Greene said: ‘When asked whether there would be further delays to the completion of the new Arran ferry, the transport secretary quite clearly was not confident the delivery date still is the actual delivery date. The ferries are already one year late, it is simply not good enough.
‘Both mainland and islands residents have had to endure over 12 months of delays, disruptions and cancellations because of issues with the current ageing vessels. After already having been pushed back by a year, people will be dismayed to learn that the new vessels could be delayed even further.
‘This is a lifeline route for people on both sides of the shore, many rely on the service to access key public services such as healthcare, education, farmers need it to move livestock and businesses rely on dependable connections.
‘The SNP have quite simply let the Arran community down and it is a shameful admission that they still have no idea when the new ferry will be in action.’
The MV Glen Sannox being launched at Port Glasgow in November 2017. 01_B47front01