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by Tom Freeman
19 May 2016
CalMac wins contract, leaving ferry network in public hands

CalMac wins contract, leaving ferry network in public hands

Publicly-owned Caledonian MacBrayne has been named as the preferred bidder for the £900m Clyde and Hebrides Ferries Network contract.

Current provider CalMac beat off competition from private firm Serco to run the services after a controversial tendering process.

The Scottish Government had initially been criticised by unions for attempting to privatise the network, while ministers maintained EU rules required a competitive bidding process.

The RMT and TSSA unions had raised concerns about the tender and its impact on workers’ terms and conditions.

CalMac’s bid includes £6m of investments in infrastructure and a commitment to using local apprentices.

Announcing the successful bid, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “CalMac have a long and proud tradition of running the Clyde and Hebrides routes, and the company is woven into the fabric of the communities they serve.

“Their tender offers a good deal for those communities served by these vital transport links and ensures that we can maximise the opportunities to support and nurture our island economies.

“CalMac will better manage demand to drive an increase in traffic, as well as make the ferry services more attractive with the introduction of smart ticketing on key routes.”

Scottish Labour, who were due to join trade unions in a protest over the process, said the Scottish Government had made “the right decision in the end”. Leader Kezia Dugdale tweeted: “Brilliant news to start the day.  Credit to unions and campaigners for pressure to #keepitcalmac”

Managing director of CalMac Martin Dorchester said: “We are proud to be given the opportunity to transform ferry passengers' experience across the west coast of Scotland and to work closely with our partners to connect towns, cities and communities like never before.”

Serco currently runs the contract covering the Northern Isles.

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