Setback for Mallaig-Armadale ferry service as CalMac woes continue

The Loch Fyne approaching Armadale. Picture

The Armadale-Mallaig ferry service will continue to be served by a single vessel for the next fortnight due to a fault with a scheduled relief boat.

The MV ‘Loch Bhrusda’ had this week been due to join the ‘Loch Fyne’ on the route, after the other regular Sound of Sleat vessel – the MV ‘Lord of the Isles’ – was redeployed.

Amid a chaotic Easter period for Caledonian MacBrayne’s west coast network the ‘Lord of the Isles’ – which also serves Mallaig-Lochboisdale – was sent to provide cover for the southern Hebrides while the regular ferry for Coll and Tiree, the MV ‘Clansman’, undergoes repairs. The shuffling of the fleet caused disruption on services to Uist, Harris and Islay.

The ferry operators say a problem with its lifesaving equipment is keeping the 18-car ‘Loch Bhrusda’ out of service.

On Tuesday CalMac confirmed that that the ‘Loch Fyne’ – which carries 36 cars and has to work to a timetable restricted by tides – will continue to be the only vessel for Mallaig-Armadale until at least the 23rd of April.

Community representatives on either side of the Sound of Sleat have been unhappy ever since the 40-car MV ‘Coruisk’ was removed from the route in 2016.

Prior to Easter weekend Robbie Drummond, interim managing director of CalMac Ferries, warned of further disruption because ageing CalMac ferries were now being stretched to capacity by increased demand.

Read more in this week’s West Highland Free Press, out on Thursday