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After nearly a month’s delay, this year’s Campbeltown to Ardrossan summer ferry service was scheduled to begin yesterday (Thursday).
Ferry operator CalMac expressed ‘deep regret’ that the service was postponed due to ‘the overrun of essential vessel repairs’ to the MV Clansman resulting in the redeployment of vessels across the company’s routes.
A spokesperson confirmed that the MV Isle of Arran, which serviced the Islay route during the disruption, will return to Campbeltown this week and told the Courier: ‘It is with deep regret that the Campbeltown service was postponed and we apologise again for the disruption it has caused.
‘With one vessel out of service for repair, we do not have a spare vessel to continue to run the full summer timetable. In these circumstances, difficult decisions had to be made to continue to provide lifeline services for communities which rely on us.
‘The timetable arrangements we put in place for the period of disruption were the best options with the resources.’
South Kintyre councillor John Armour, who chairs the Campbeltown ferry committee, was ‘delighted’ to receive confirmation from CalMac that the service will ‘at long last get going’.
Mr Armour said: ‘The loss of this vital service has been a huge disappointment to travellers wanting to use the ferry to travel to and from Kintyre and beyond.
‘Accommodation providers have been heaviest hit with some telling me of a large number of cancellations they can ill afford to lose.
‘The ferry is a wonderful asset to Kintyre and well supported by many locals and visitors.
‘It is to be hoped that the rest of the season will run smoothly and restore some confidence in the service, confidence that has been lost during this and previous years of disruption.’
The Campbeltown to Ardrossan ferry route was introduced on a trial basis in 2013 and became permanent in 2015.
The route has been plagued by cancellations due to weather and mechanical issues, inciting anger from the community who believe the operator does not value the route.
During the disruption, CalMac managing director Robbie Drummond insisted the company remained ‘fully committed’ to the route and hoped that local people would understand CalMac’s ‘difficult position.’
The MV Isle of Arran in Campbeltown a previous season. 25_c30ferry01_calmac isle of arran