Yet more delay for new Arran ferry

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The date for the delivery of MV Glen Sannox has slipped yet again and is now projected for the fourth quarter of 2022, it was confirmed to the Arran Ferry Committee this week.

The new Arran ferry which is now twice over budget and more than three years late had been expected three months earlier, a date given only last month.

After the handover to CalMac, the company will need to complete trials and crew familiarisation before the ferry enters service, which may now not be until 2023.

As previously announced, the MV Glen Sannox will not reliably operate from Ardrossan until the proposed upgrades are complete and the AFC has asked that all parties work together to provide some outline of what services and timetables can be provided to allow for business planning through the disruption when the ferry will move to Troon.

Further work is planned to upgrade Gourock. This will also provide alternative berthing for MV Glen Sannox, though dates are not confirmed.

The Arran Ferry Committee (AFC) met face-to-face for the first time this year for its October meeting on Monday night and was given the updates by Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) CEO Kevin Hobbs and Brian Fulton, CMAL head of business support. Also in attendance was Kenneth Gibson MSP and his researcher.

Mr Hobbs also presented the CMAL 10-year investment plan, which is published on its website, and updated the committee on the various activities it is undertaking.

The plan includes six major vessels, 10 small vessels in a two-phase programme, three vessels for the Gourock–Dunoon–Kilcreggan routes and two freight vessels for the Northern routes.

The first five years of the plan are funded as part of the £580m funding announced earlier this year.

This funding is in addition to the costs of the MV Glen Sannox and hull 802 vessels currently being constructed at Ferguson’s Marine Port Glasgow.

The funding also covers port improvements for ports under CMAL’s ownership and discussions continue to confirm the investment to rejuvenate the CalMac fleet and introduce greater resilience.

Future technology being considered includes the next generation of electric or hybrid vessels. Future hydrogen technology is anticipated though still to be fully proven.

In a very open and respectful meeting, CMAL also answered a range of questions on matters under its control including the recent tidal restrictions which have been introduced at Claonaig.

These have been investigated with no clear reason identified.

CMAL proposes to carry out work to extend the length of the slipway, similar to the work that has been completed at Lochranza.

CMAL is also progressing the planned engineering evaluation to mitigate interruptions in service due to adverse winds. This was commissioned earlier this year following a request from the AFC.

Concerns about the ongoing reliability of the Brodick Passenger Access System (PAS) have been investigated.

The service is improving and the annual running costs of the PAS are in line with similar installations.

It was also confirmed that the old pier at Brodick is unsafe, and plans are in place for its removal before the year end.

The question was asked about the future of the lessees of the old terminal building and the need to maintain the property.

This is being monitored by CMAL property managers to ensure the long-term care and maintenance of the property.

The committee left CMAL management with a clear requirement that the fleet and ports needed to deliver a much higher level of service than was currently provided.