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The truths they don't want you to read....

Monday, September 27, 2010

New ferries needed

In the convoluted structure that is the CalMac group of companies, the parent company, David MacBrayne are making the group comments in connection with the ferries review currently being undertaken by the Scottish Government.

David MacBrayne - Road to the Isles
 Described as "hard hitting", what it actually is is the sound of chickens coming home to roost, with decades of under-investment causing a major headache for the company.

And that means a major headache for everyone who is dependent upon the services that CalMac deliver.

The ferries need to be replaced at least one per year, just to keep them all up to date, but there is such a backlog of old vessels that the company clearly believes that it cannot deliver the required services over the coming years with the existing fleet.

Can anyone remember when the last ship was added to the fleet, and the one before that?

But of course, it is not quite as easy as just building ships. And here I feel I am banging on about something I know I have said a number of times before, but which only gets truer with time.

A new ship or ships on the Stornoway route may also require new pier facilities, and as other vessels are replaced or moved onto new runs, the entire infrastructure needs careful consideration and advance planning for the next generation of vessels.

And that will cost huge sums.  But doing in on the cheap now, will inevitably cost more in the long run as the penny-pinching will come home to roost.

CalMac are absolutely right to highlight this now, as they will be (wrongly) blamed for a crap service if the Government cannot find the funding for the necessary capital works of probably £20-£30m per annum for the next 10-20 years.

With an election looming, we must bring pressure to bear on both Labour and the SNP to make clear their intentions, and not to hide behind the review which may not report until after the election.

After all, none of them are going to dangle the promise of cheap fares in knackered old vessels are they?


Richard T said...

Well of course if the Government abandoned its crude bribery of the RET to the Western isles (Rob Gibson let the cat out of the bag when challenged over Orkney's exclusion that if you voted SNP...) there'd be plenty money for a rolling programme to build ferries for the west as well as for Orkney's internal ferries which are pushing 25 years old. Incidentally on a previous post, unlike Shetland pretty well all ferry routes to and within Orkney would benefit from the RET even allowing for the Islander discounts.

Anonymous said...

Cal Mac now a national disgrace, management is a shambles, overpaid and underworked staff what a fiasco, this is a quango that should be abolished.

The subsidy they receive is astronomical someone should give them and our Scottish Government a spine to put the money where it really belongs.

RET what a sham and goodwill gesture by Alex Almond the nut to his voters in the Western Isles, what about the other users?? Do they not deserve a trial of the RET scheme??

As a private operator Mr Banks operates an excellent service on the Pentland Firth and could do so much more if he were given just a little backing.

I say sack the lot and give me a fair crack at the whip and I am sure that I could give the executive most of their money back at the end of the year!

Anonymous said...

You're very right, Richard T.

Some of the Orkney islands haven't yet received the benefit of a roll on, roll off ferry.

The RET 'bribe' is a national disgrace, which is not receiving proper attention in the national media because it's only the far-flung folk at the edge who are involved.

Anonymous said...

When Orkney was represented by a Deputy First Minister they got brought new ferries in the form of Northlink who had shed loads of public money thrown at them.

Calmac are a disgrace, there are too many managers and the crew have the best deal for anyone going to sea.

ferrylouper said...

It's a fair point that under the previous regime the Orkney and Shetland service benefitted considerably. But it is also indisputable that here we were paying over the odds. Personally I would have preferred to have seen the discount scheme in Orkney and Shetland extended to us, and hopefully when they realise we can't afford a universal ferry discount we will end up with an islander discount as well.

Just like everywhere else in Europe.