The Comhairle has tentatively welcomed today’s announcement by Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, that £3.5m is to be invested by Scottish Government to reduce the risk of vessels breaking down and to return them to service quicker if they do.
Cllr Uisdean Robertson, Chairman of the Comhairle’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee said, “Our discussions with the previous Transport Minister confirmed that Transport Scotland were working with both Caledonian Maritime Assets and CalMac Ferries to identify ways and means to improve the resilience and reliability of what is obviously an ageing fleet. We are pleased to see that some progress is being made”.
“Today’s announcement of a contribution of £3.5m is welcomed. We await details of how this funding is to be spent but we are aware that, not only is an increasing number of vessels in the fleet becoming more expensive and time-consuming to maintain to the necessary standards because of their age, but the availability of parts and, in some cases, the need to manufacture or fabricate them from “scratch”, is proving to be a growing challenge for the operator”.
“Engineering solutions and a more resilient and reliable supply chain for critical parts will likely form part of the wider strategy and, although we do not envisage it to be affordable within the funding announced today, additional spare tonnage for utilisation in the event of disruptions, planned or otherwise, must also form part of the solution for the medium to longer terms”.