CalMac “nothing to add” on Mallaig-Armadale ferry service

Campaigners say vessels like the ‘Lochinvar’ are better suited to a slipway rather than the linkspans at either side of the Sound of Sleat

Operators CalMac will have “nothing to add” to a public meeting to be held next week to discuss the Mallaig Armadale ferry service.

The service has come under fire in recent weeks, following a number of cancellations and delays – mainly due to low tides.

Local campaigners and businesses have been angered by the decision to remove the MV ‘Coruisk’ from the route, in favour of a three-vessel service.

Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford has called a meeting in Sleat, and has asked CalMac to attend to discuss recent problems, and the potential re-instatement of the MV ‘Coruisk’.

But the ferry operators have said they will not be represented.

A CalMac spokesman said: “Senior management from CalMac met very recently with the Sleat Transport Forum and have taken on board their views. We are currently looking at ways of making changes to the timetable that will go some way to addressing their concerns around reliability. We would not have anything more to add at a public forum at this time.

“Over the first month of operations this new, more flexible three vessel service has seen passenger numbers increase by 19 per cent, cars up 29 per cent – more than 1000 extra vehicles transported over the four week period – and the coach travel tourism trade is up by 20 per cent on the same period last year. The route has so far this season experienced no capacity issues and is currently carrying more people and vehicles than it has ever done.”

The ‘Lord of the Isles’ operates on the route between Mallaig and Armadale, and Mallaig and Lochboisdale.

The ‘Coruisk’ is now operating on the Sound of Mull in order to satisfy a Government commitment to make Oban a commutable destination from Craignure.

According to the Sleat Transport Forum, out of 428 planned sailings in April 2015, the ‘Coruisk’ completed 426 with only two cancelled.

By contrast, in the period from 25th March to the 23rd April this year there were over 50 cancellations on the route.

The public meeting to discuss the concerns will take place at the Clan Donald Centre on Wednesday 4th May at 6.30pm.

Read more on this story in this week’s West Highland Free Press.