Plans for changes to the ferry terminal and harbour at Tarbert are to be shown in their revised form at consultation events from Monday September 10th onwards.
The changes are needed to create expanded facilities in time for the delivery of the new hybrid ferry, expected to serve the Uig triangle – routes between Uig in Skye, Lochmaddy in North Uist and Tarbert in Harris. It’s currently listed for delivery by the end of 2019.
Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), who operate the harbours from which CalMac ferry services run, are working on changes which include deepening the harbour at Tarbert and construction of a new terminal.
At previous consultations on the current works, concern has been expressed about the impact on the newly-completed Tarbert Marina and about the timescale of construction. CMAL says work on a new terminal building is expected to start in early 2020.
There’s no guarantee that other infrastructure works will be completed before the new ferry is completed, but CMAL said following earlier consultations: “We are endeavouring to complete the shoreside works as expediently as we can and are aiming for, at the least, having the dredging and pier works completed so that the new vessel can berth unrestricted.
"There are, however, elements outwith our control which make it difficult to state with absolute certainty when the work will start. We are progressing with a view to being on site in early 2019 however and will provide updates as the programme develops.”
By the time the September meetings are held, CMAL hope to have finished the environmental impact assessment and detailed design and to be well on the way to inviting tenders for the works.
The ferry is one of two being built at Fergusons Marine in Glasgow as part of a £97 million Scottish Government-supported contract. The first ferry, Glen Sannox, was officially launched in November 2017 and is now being fitted out to serve the Ardrossan Brodick route. The Uig triangle will be served by the second, currently under construction.
Both ferries are promised to offer an improved service and facilities to travellers, including full access for disabled passengers, with three lifts serving all levels, more modern passenger and crew accommodation and more modern facilities on board. They’re also promised to be more fuel efficient, giving off less harmful emissions and carrying more vehicles per sailing.
The new ferry will have a similar look and feel to the MV Loch Seaforth, which CMAL feels has worked well and proved popular with passengers. She’s currently in the yard under construction as ‘vessel 802’ and, when it comes to naming her, CMAL will do an online poll with four popular names and the public will have a chance to vote for their favourite.
Picture shows MV Glen Sannox, sister ship of the new ferry for the Uig triangle route, at her launch in November 2017.