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Arran Ferry Committee continues to work with Transport Scotland, CMAL and CalMac to address the restrictions the island faces with the current ferry capacity and poor resilience.
AFC continue to make representation to various levels of government and have also supported a joint letter from North Ayrshire Council seeking early engagement with the Transport Minister to seek his support on these matters.
The committee were pleased to receive an update from CalMac’s head of operational planning on ongoing discussion which are taking place between CalMac and Transport Scotland with the owners of the MV Pentalina and which are showing positive progress.
The vessel has successfully carried out trials at both Brodick and Ardrossan and is continuing to check suitability for other ports across the network.
If conditions can be agreed, it could be deployed to the Arran service to help provide resilience in the event of breakdowns and also ensure the capacity is maintained by supplementing the services at the peak demand times Thursday to Sunday when the MV Isle of Arran is required to support the Campbeltown route.
The vessel can accommodate 56 cars and in these constrained times 183 passengers, which could increase in normal times to 346 in summer. The vehicle capacity will be utilised up to the relevant passenger limits. As this vessel has no bow ramp vehicles will require to enter and turn round with the centre lanes being filled by vehicles who will either reverse on or off. This will extend the turnaround time for any service provided to approximately 45 minutes in summer.
Currently there is no separate passenger access and foot passengers will require to use the car ramp as has been practice on its previous route on Orkney.
The vessel will be provided on a Time-Charter basis, which means that the owners will have responsibility for the care and maintenance and CalMac will provide other crew and stewards who will need to be recruited when an agreement is reached.
Crew accommodation and berthing still has to be agreed and timetables considered. The working time for the crew will be 11 hours in accordance with maritime regulations and they will need to have further exemptions approved for carriage of livestock.
Other routes are being discussed but the impression was that the combined efforts from AFC, NAC and our MSP have all been recognised and Arran is the most likely destination for this vessel.
AFC welcomed the positive progress and will continue to discuss options and timetables to bring some welcome relief to our service.
The meeting also confirmed that work has been initiated to install temporary toilet facilities at Claonaig while the permanent solution awaits final planning approval from Argyll and Bute Council.
The additional services negotiated which see the Campbeltown service being routed via Brodick are showing popular and helping capacity.
The committee will continue to work with all parties to ensure that any opportunities identified are maximised and appreciates the support and cooperation of North Ayrshire Council, Transport Scotland, CMAL and CalMac in this work.