Ferry fury as CalMac cancels more sailings

CalMac ferry leaving Campbeltown

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Some things improve with age but it seems that cannot be said of the Campbeltown to Ardrossan ferry, MV Isle of Arran.

The 34-year-old passenger and vehicle vessel is scheduled to sail into Campbeltown on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from April to September, and depart for Ardrossan on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

But this year numerous sailings have been cancelled, causing outrage and exasperation among the people who try to use it.

Just last Sunday the vessel sailed into Campbeltown with no passengers as it was deemed unsafe carry fare payers due to weather, despite the crew being on board.

The reason for the cancellations is often given by operator CalMac as the inclement weather, but recently it has also been attributed to the vessel’s age.

MV Isle of Arran, launched in 1983, served on the Arran to Ardrossan route for ten years before being moved to Kennacraig.

She returned to her original route in 2012, supplementing the MV Caledonian Isles in summer and becoming a relief vessel in winter.

In 2013, she was designated to the Campbeltown to Ardrossan route and has been the regular ferry ever since.

Heather Wallace, who contacted the Courier to voice her concerns, said: ‘I, of course, would not want a ferry running when the weather is unsuitable but it only runs occasionally as it would not be insured to go out due to its age, in weather that actually is a Scottish summer.

‘The staff are excellent, the timetable poor but Campbeltown needs the ferry to bring tourists to this beautiful place and also to bring families together, without the sometimes arduous journey, where we can have roads closed.

‘The ferry is essential to keeping Campbeltown accessible.’

A CalMac spokesman said: ‘We regret the disruptions to the service this year which are primarily related to the age of the vessel.

‘Ferry users can be assured that we are doing everything in our power to improve the resilience of the service but we will not compromise safety in order to achieve this.’

With just more than a week left of the season, ferry users can only hope that next year the reliability of the service will improve.