Published: Friday, 21 November 2014 07:30
Storm brews over ferry upheaval
There’s been widespread outcry following CalMac’s announcement this week of interim arrangements for ferry travel while the Ullapool vehicle ramp is being replaced from next February. Politicians and public bodies complain of poor public consultation, discourteous behaviour by CalMac, and damage to haulage and the tourism industry. The Western Isles Emergency Planning Co-Ordination Group say they’re concerned that no consultation has been held over possible impacts, and that the irregular timetable means traffic movement in the early hours of some mornings, and a risk that storm disruption could leave ferries, freight and cars backed up at a relatively small marshalling area in Uig. Meanwhile Comhairle nan Eilean Siar's Chair of Transportation and Infrastructure, Cllr John Mackay, said it was ‘disappointing’ that arrangements were not discussed with the community. He said: “There are other options for dealing with the disruption which the Comhairle should have had opportunity to discuss with CalMac. The people of these Islands are being treated discourteously by CalMac, who for a six week period will be reducing services and causing major disruption. It is not acceptable for a publicly owned company to behave in this manner.” Meanwhile MSP Alasdair Allan met Transport Minister Keith Brown on the issue, saying afterwards: "The great majority of food on shelves in Lewis depends on this link and it is therefore of the utmost importance that CMAL and Calmac speak to the community and minimise disruption.” MP Angus MacNeil went further, asking that postponement of the work until next winter be considered. He said: “With the works taking us into the Easter Holidays and beyond Easter Weekend, we really have to ask whether the cure to the problem is now actually greater than the problem itself.”
Read more: Local News for Friday 21st November 2014
Published: Thursday, 20 November 2014 07:30
‘Significant inconvenience’ to travellers
Drivers and hauliers will face ‘signigicant inconvenience’ into the spring of next year, as CalMac re-organises its lifeline service between Lewis and Harris and the mainland. The service change has become necessary because of a decision to replace Ullapool Harbour’s linkspan vehicle ramp, with the harbour out of bounds to vehicle traffic between February and April next year. CalMac yesterday revealed its work-round plan, with the £42 million new ferry, Loch Seaforth, reduced to a foot-passenger vehicle between Stornoway and Ullapool, while MV Isle of Lewis and MV Clipper Ranger will between them take vehicles and freight on a three hour crossing between Stornoway and Uig in Skye. The disruption is set to last for six weeks, from February 22nd to April 7th, when the new car ramp will open. CalMac said the decision to start work in February was made to avoid the extra inconvenience that would have been caused over the busier summer months. Managing Director Martin Dorchester said: “We realise that for a limited time this will cause significant inconvenience for our customers. It has proved to be a significant logistical challenge, but we believe we have achieved a good solution that will ensure the continued flow of traffic to and from the Western Isles for the duration of the works.” The key parts of CalMac plans are: To operate a passenger-only service between Ullapool-Stornoway with the MV Loch Seaforth; to operate a vehicle and passenger service between Stornoway and Uig with the MV Isle of Lewis and to operate a freight service between Stornoway and Uig with MV Clipper Ranger. Services on the Uig triangle with MV Finlaggan and MV Hebrides will be unaffected. The full new timetable is available on CalMac’s website.
Read more: Local News for Thursday 20th November 2014