Scottish Government announces £115m ferry contract for new vessels
Two new ferries will be ordered to ease pressures on CalMac's west coast services, the Scottish Government has announced.
The contract is expected to be awarded before the year is out, with £115m allocated to the project by Transport Scotland. The vessels will be similar to those now under construction in Turkey for the Islay service and will be used on the Skye triangle route.
Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth said the move will "create the opportunity for significantly increased capacity and resilience for the communities of the Western Isles".
One of the delayed ferries under construction at the Ferguson shipyard in Inverclyde may now be put to use on the Arran route in summer. Gilruth said: "All the options will be discussed with island communities at the appropriate time."
The news was welcomed by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar but Rhoda Grant MSP, islands spokesperson for Scottish Labour, said it would be "cold comfort" to islanders, adding: "Scotland's islands don't have a functioning ferry network because of the SNP's failure to deliver a functioning ferry fleet, and they still have no short-term solutions and no real long-term strategy."
Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Graham Simpson said: "It is a relief to see the SNP finally playing catch-up on their decade-old ferry replacement programme, but after the fiasco at Ferguson Marine, no one will be holding their breath for these vessels being delivered any time soon."
Kevin Hobbs, chief executive at CMAL, commented: "This is a highly welcome commitment from the Scottish Government which allows us to increase the pace of vessel replacement plans in line with our ambitions. This additional investment will bring two new vessels to the fleet, meaning a total of six major vessels will be replaced by 2026."