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The Scottish Labour Party has revealed today (Sunday January 22)  that the amount being paid out in compensation to CalMac customers has soared four-fold over the last four years. 

In 2018-19 – the year that the delayed Ferguson’s Marine ferries, including Hull 802 for Uig-Lochmaddy-Tarbert - were originally scheduled to be delivered, there was a total of £159,000 was paid out to CalMac customers for disruptions. This worked out at an average of £13,250 a month. 

In the first four months of 2022-23 alone, CalMac had already paid out £215,000 – an average of £53,000 per month. 

This means passengers are facing more delays and disruption on CalMac routes, costing the publicly-owned operator four times more than it did in 2018-19.

Scottish Labour Islands spokesperson Rhoda Grant said:  “These spiralling costs expose what a mess the SNP have made of lifeline ferry services in Scotland. 

“Our ferry fleet has been left to rust because of years of failed planning, as well as the ferry fiasco where the Scottish Government have failed to deliver two new ferries. 

“Now islanders are stuck with chaos, cancellations and delays while taxpayers foot the bill. 

“We need a national ferry building programme that supports Scotland’s shipbuilding industry and delivers the ferries we need.  In the meantime, they must buy additional tonnage to have enough capacity to cover the daily breakdowns that are happening due to the ageing fleet.”

The annual figures were provided following a Freedom of Information Act request.  

 

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

2021-22

2022-23*

Total Customer Rights Claim (£000s)

159

177

51

261

215

Average per month (£000s)

13.25

14.75

4.25

21.75

53.75

*First four months of 2022-23 only

And slanders in the southern Hebrides and the Clyde are again hit with the loss of two of CalMac's ten largest lifeline ferries for weeks, with one suffering rust, which concerns surfaced over continuing food shortages.

The 35-year-old MV Isle of Mull and 29-year-old MV Hebridean Isles have suffered serious problems for weeks causing major disruption in the ferry network which has led to the closure of one route as ferries have been switched around. MV Isle of Mull has suffered hull rust issues and subsequently engine issues while MV Hebridean Isles has had bow visor faults.

MV Hebridean Isles first hit problems on Boxing Day  and will not be back until February 3  with the Arran service, one of Scotland's busiest, having to revert to a single vessel timetable. CalMac say that: "Due to an ongoing issue with MV Hebridean Isles bow visor hook, MV Isle of Arran will continue to operate a single vessel timetable between Ardrossan and Brodick.

“While MV Caledonian Isles is in annual overhaul until 3 February, we had planned for MV Isle of Arran and MV Hebridean Isles to provide the Ardrossan-Brodick service.

"However, MV Hebridean Isles has a technical issue impacting her bow visor operating mechanism which has deemed the bow visor unusable. MV Hebridean Isles only has stern access available and is therefore unable to operate to Ardrossan Port due to the structure of this harbour.

"To provide the required capacity on the Ardrossan-Brodick service and support the local community, we will instead operate MV Hebridean Isles as a freight-only service from Troon-Brodick. This service will initially launch as Monday-Friday only, with two round-trips daily from Troon."

MV Isle of Mull – which returned to service last week - ended up being off again on Friday for further "essential repairs" which led to the cancellation of services to South Uist.

Today (Sunday 22 January) CalMac say that following the repairs on Friday afternoon, adverse weather is forecast preventing the vessel returning to Lochboisdale. 

As a result, the following sailing has been cancelled: Depart Lochboisdale - 06:10   

The 12:30 sailing from Oban to Lochboisdale will operate as normal. 

There was further disruption recently with a string of cancellations as 23-year-old MV Lochnevis, which serves the Small Isles of Canna, Rùm, Eigg and Muck was sidelined after an issue with a generator emerged on Tuesday.

(Details of the CalMac service outages to Arran have been updated since this report was first published)