Comhairle Calls For Increased Transport Resilience Following Ferry Breakdown

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Transportation and Infrastructure Chair has called for an increase in resilience in the ferry services network including the use of two ferries on the Stornoway Ullapool route.

The call comes following a breakdown of MV Loch Seaforth yesterday which has resulted in ongoing disruption to services.

Cllr Uisdean Robertson Chair of Transportation and Infrastructure, said:  “It is totally unacceptable that our communities and visitors to the Islands are having to put up with the continuing disruption around ferry services. The Comhairle has called for a two ferry operation on the Stornoway-Ullapool route, as recommended in a previous STAG appraisal, which would build in a degree of resilience into the service and the Scottish Government needs to take action quickly. The fragility of the current service was exposed yesterday with a breakdown leading to a potentially very serious situation, never mind the ongoing disruption being caused to the travelling public and the damage to the local economy which is heavily dependent on reliable transport links.

Thankfully, everyone arrived safely yesterday but there is still a totally unacceptable level of disruption and urgent steps need to be taken to lessen the risks involved and increase the safety and reliability of ferry services.

I would also call on the UK Government to reconsider their position on a dedicated  Emergency Towing Vehicle (ETV) for the waters around the Minch. There was a tug in the vicinity yesterday but that was by good fortune and we cannot rely upon ‘good luck’ every time there is a potentially serious situation.  

The staff of Cal-Mac are to be commended for the way they dealt with yesterday’s situation but neither they, nor our communities, should have to put up with these unsatisfactory and frustrating situations.”