Category Archives: Transport Forum

MV Clansman / MV LOTI switches

Calmac advise that the MV Lord of the Isles will commence on the Tiree service on Sunday 27th January – ie two days earlier than originally planned . This is due to the Clansman being switched earlier into the Arran service to cover an additional delay to the MV Caledonian Isles’ Dry Docking(DD )

Go to :

MV Clansman :As per CalMac’s previous advise, the MV Clansman will also be switched into the UIG triangle  for most of March whilst the MV Hebrides is in DD.

Calmac’s current advise is that this be will from approximately Sat 2nd March to Tuesday 26th March andexpect MV Lord of the Isles to run to the published Clansman timetable.’

Coll Linkspan Closures Jan 2019

Coll Linkspan Closures  Jan 2019

Coll linkspan will be closed for 2 periods in Jan 2019 as follows :- (1) after  the 12.45 sailing on Tuesday 22 January to re-open for the arrival of the 09.55 service on Saturday 26 January, and  (2) then close again after the 12.45 sailing on Monday 28 January, and reopen for the arrival of the 10.15 sailing on Thursday 31 January.

Services for foot passengers will be provided during the disruption on normal service days


14 January 2019

Coll and Tarbert linkspans to close for essential maintenance

Due to findings during routine inspections, the linkspans at Coll and Tarbert (Harris) are required to close for a series of days over the coming months.

Work to replace the wire ropes used for lifting the linkspans at Coll and Tarbert is scheduled to take place at the end of January at Coll, and end of February at Tarbert.

Owner of the harbours, CMAL, has appointed a contractor to carry out the work, which will be done in stages, in order to cause as little disruption to ferry services as possible.

The linkspan at Coll will be closed after the 12.45 sailing on Tuesday 22 January and will reopen for the arrival of the 09.55 service on Saturday 26 January, which will allow the contractor to replace the ropes on one side of the linkspan. It will then close again after the 12.45 sailing on Monday 28 January, and reopening for the arrival of the 10.15 sailing on Thursday 31 January. This will allow the replacement of the remaining ropes.

The linkspan at Tarbert (Harris) will be closed after the 16.00 service on Wednesday 27 February departs, and will reopen for the arrival of the 11.20 sailing on Tuesday 5 March. This will allow both sets of rope replacements to be carried out during a single closure period.

Ramsay Muirhead, Head of Civil Engineering at Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited said: “Following routine inspection of the linkspans at Coll and Tarbert, it was deemed that the replacement of the wire lifting ropes at both harbours was required.

We would have preferred to carry out the work at Coll during the already scheduled linkspan closure in October. However, for safety reasons, we have decided not to delay the replacement.

We are working with the team at CalMac and our contractor to ensure this work is carried out with as little disturbance to services as possible.”

CalMac have advised that services for foot passengers will be provided during the disruption on normal service days on both routes. However, passengers are advised that an amended timetable may be operated and ask customers to refer to our website for details.

Tiree Linkspan/CMAL and CalMac Presentations

Tiree Linkspan/CMAL and CalMac Presentations

Click on the links below to copies of the  CMAL and CalMac presentations in An Talla on 4th Dec


The proposed ‘works’ period will be Feb-March 2020

If you have any queries /comments please forward them via the comment response  form on the CMAL website.

Re freight, and associated transport issues, TCC has already identified the following to be addressed.

It is not exhaustive. Any additional issues you feel need to be addressed please advise TCC.

  1. How many sailings/week are being considered

  1. Can the pallet carrier carry private cars (obviously it is possble )

  1. Transporting fuel it an issue?

  1. Implications for public utilities eg BT,SSE and NHS

  1. Implication for crofters ie feed and fertiliser supply

  2. Any livestock movements possible ie in trailers?

  3. Palletisation of goods where /when and how

  1. Utilisation of mobile cranes to ‘palletise’ the Clansman

  9 Utilisation of mobile cranes to LO-LO vehicles on/off the Clansman

10 Funeral Arrangements

11 Freight groupage arrangements

Also CalMac to explore the possibility of offering a car hire package ex Oban ie ‘X days hire for price of car by ferry, with pick-up/drop off Oban pier.

 CMAL-presentation-Tiree-linkspan-refurbishment 5 Dec

CalMac-presentation-Tiree 5 Dec

Tiree Linkspan Replacement CMAL Press release

CMAL Press release:


CMAL to host public meetings to share plans with community –

Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited (CMAL) has announced it is planning to replace the linkspan decks at the ferry terminals at Coll and Tiree.

£3.7 million funding has been secured and, following a public sector procurement exercise, construction contractor George Leslie Limited has been appointed to undertake the works.

CMAL will host public meetings to share details of the planned arrangements for the linkspan deck replacements.  Communities are invited to attend their local meeting:

An Talla Community Hall, Tiree Tuesday 4th December, 4.00pm – 7.30pm

Individuals are welcome to drop-in at any time during the meetings.  Representatives from CMAL, CalMac and engineering firm Mott MacDonald will discuss the timing of the construction projects, details of the replacement process, port closure and the alternative ferry service arrangements to be in place during the works.  It is anticipated the work will take place in late autumn 2019 at Coll and early spring 2020 at Tiree.

 Brian Sydney, senior civil engineer at CMAL said: “The linkspan decks at the two ferry terminals are reaching the end of their serviceable life and are being replaced as part of our ongoing programme of harbour upgrades and improvements.  We expect each replacement will require a port closure period of three to four weeks to complete the works, subject to weather conditions.  If we can reduce the timescale, we will.  We know that timing and connectivity is vital for the islands and our aim is to minimise disruption as far as possible.

 “We will work closely with Calmac and our contractor to ensure that alternative ferry services for passengers and freight can be maintained throughout the construction period.”

 David Gibson, service delivery director, CalMac said:“We are aware of how important these lifeline services are to the islands and we are committed to minimising the impact on customers and the local community while these works are carried out.

Ferry Investment

The Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee (REC) chose earlier this year  to carry out pre-budget scrutiny on the strategic investment required to support Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS).

This has included three ‘ evidence’ sessions which has taken evidence from:-

CalMac-: Robbie Drummond (CEO) /  Simon Hulme IT Director/David McGibbon( Chairman)

CMAL:- Kevin Hobbs (CEO)/Jim Anderson (Tech Dir)

Others:-Angus Campbell (Ch/man CalMac Community Board)/Rob McKinnon (Outer Hebrides Tourism)/Ranald Robertson (HITRANs)/Roy Pedersen(Consultant  and author of Who Pays the Ferryman? – The Great Scottish Ferry Swindle) 

The relevant REC reports are  on the REC’s w/site  

TCC made this submission to the REC  

This pre-budget scrutiny has resulted in the foll primary recommendations to Scottish Government

Future strategic planning and associated investment:
The Committee—
• Calls on the Scottish Government to respond to criticisms of the lack of resilience in the fleet and to the evidence that CMAL has received less than half the amount of funding required over the last 10 years.
• In anticipation of the budget publication in December, the Committee recommends that the Scottish Government prioritise ferries investment with a focus on procuring new vessels to reduce the average age across the fleet and improve service reliability.
• In conjunction with this budget prioritisation the Committee calls on the Scottish Government to conduct an urgent review of the Ferries Plan to meet current and future needs. The islands must be served by a network of routes that fully meet the needs and aims to meet the aspirations of communities and encourage their long-term sustainability. The Committee considers it to be imperative that these proposals are underpinned by a fully co-ordinated strategy for the staged, ongoing replacement or refurbishment of vessels and any necessary work to upgrade ports infrastructure. It is essential that the strategy is supported by a delivery plan that includes a realistic and achievable programme of funding, which will give confidence to island communities and other ferry users. This ongoing programme of funding should be clearly reflected in all future Scottish Government budgets.
• As part of this review, the Committee recommends that the Scottish Government reflect on whether it may be more appropriate to procure a larger number of smaller vessels as opposed to larger, more expensive vessels, to meet future needs on certain routes. Although, it notes suggestions made in evidence that larger vessels may be more environmentally friendly and require a lower number of crew members across the service.
• The Committee recommends that the review should consider provision across the whole network with a focus on removing bottlenecks to each island community. Consideration should be given to identifying the islands where capacity is particularly constrained across a full operating day.
Other port infrastructure issues
The Committee—
• Asks for further clarity on how the berthing dues which CalMac pays to Trust, local authority or privately-owned ports are used. It asks the Scottish Government whether it would be possible for any requirement to be placed on these organisations to invest a proportion of those dues in harbour maintenance and investment.
• Where port infrastructure works are required the Committee recommends that the Scottish government work with all harbour owners to encourage a standardisation of ferry berthing points to allow greater flexibility in the network and allow a wider number of vessels to access ports.
Road Equivalent Tariff
The Committee—
• Recommends that the Scottish Government reflect on the evidence the Committee has received about ways in which RET may be further improved and developed in future. For example, differential or dynamic pricing and the ability for islanders to take priority, particularly in emergency situations. This evidence should be taken into account as part of the 2019 RET review.
• Notes the record number of visitors to the islands and calls for the Scottish Government’s views on ways in which the existing fleet and any additional resources might be used more flexibly and creatively to deal with freight and commercial business and alleviate pressure on regular passenger sailings.
Tendering and state aid rules
The Committee—
• Recommends that the Scottish Government review the procurement practice of ferry tendering in countries where state aid rules apply but they appear to be able to achieve a greater degree of flexibility and innovation to see what learning can be applied in Scotland.

Community engagement, equalities and improved customer experience
The Committee—
• Seeks confirmation from the Scottish Government on whether it intends to complete an Islands Impact Assessment on this year’s budget.
• Notes that the islands, like the rest of Scotland, have an aging population. It is essential that any new Ferries Plan and investment strategy take the changing needs and demographics of the islands into account.
• Believes that comprehensive STAG appraisals as well as community and trade union engagement are essential when dealing with life line services. It recommends that it would be good practice to produce an easily accessible response to any public engagement which outlines
what will be taken forward as a result of the exercise and any mitigating actions that will be taken if the action which the community calls for is unable to be delivered.
• Believes that better transport integration should be prioritised as part of any future investment strategy as it would contribute to the achievement of a number of environmental, socio economic, accessibility and funding objectives.

It remains to be seen if the REC’s  recommendations are incorporated in full, or part, in the  Draft Budget for 2019-20, publication expected early Dec

Click on this link for full text of REC_Committee_letter to Cabinet Secretary 

CMAL Tiree Presentation Oct 2018

Kevin Hobbs  CEO of  CMAL  gave a detailed CMAL-Tiree Presentation  to the Tiree Transport Forum (29 Oct)

He explained CMAL’s relationship  with Scottish Government- Transport Scotland- CalMac, the funding mode and income and expenditure streams.

He reviewed the delayed delivery prospects of the two new ferries under construction, which now  dictates a lack of fleet resilience  through till autumn 2020.

He also outlined what he regarded as the’ideal ‘CalMac fleet replacement programme by 2025 ie 10 ferries , 6 ‘ biggies’ all standard units of 90/95m LOA  and 4 small units requiring  upwards of £400m investment.

Ferry Investment has been a major consideration of the REC Committee which has now made detailed recommendations to Scottish Government.

CalMac response to TTF

Thank you for your email and I note the Transport Forum’s view.  Firstly, please be assured that we were not withholding any information from you at our meeting. You will recall that we discussed the current pressures on the network and that, notwithstanding our commitment to deliver the best service possible to each community, there may from time to time have to be substitute arrangements.  In Tiree’s case, if the MV Clansman was not available, our experience suggested that although she has slightly lesser capacity, MV Lord of the Isles was the most appropriate replacement. To the best of my recollection, the meeting understood this.
The change to Uig triangle relief cover during MV Hebrides’ dry dock in March, followed concerns from the community that MV Hebridean Isles & MV Isle Of Arran would be unable to provide  a resilient service, based on previous experience of this arrangement and MV Isle of Arran’s recent problems with her propulsion system.  We believe that by deploying MV Clansman to the triangle and MV Lord Of The Isles to Coll/Tiree, this will provide the most resilient service across both routes.  Any capacity issues are manageable.
I recognise that you would not wish to see the MV Clansman redeployed away from Tiree but I am sure you will appreciate the planning constraints that we have to work with to maintain the best service we can across the network. I hope this clarifies the position.
David Gibson
Director of Service Delivery

Letter to Calmac expressing disappointment on Deployment of MV Clansman to Other Network Routes

Letter to Calmac expressing disappointment on Deployment of MV Clansman to Other Network Routes

The link above gives the background details

Dear David

Tiree Transport Forum are in receipt of your letter of the 17th October 2018, one week following your visit to Tiree and a wide ranging meeting with Tiree Transport Forum.

It is extremely disappointing for Tiree Transport Forum members to learn that despite previous firm assurances that MV Clansman is the dedicated vessel for Oban-Coll-Tiree, it now transpires that at the earliest opportunity the vessel is to be deployed elsewhere on the network, “to improve resilience”, following demands from customers using the Uig triangle route. Your letter states that you have given “extensive consideration” to the proposal, and it is all the more discouraging to our members that such consideration did not warrant a mention to us during our lengthy meeting with you, Finlay and Robert.

This kind of ill thought through proposal, and also manner in which it has been delivered, does absolutely nothing to foster any spirit of cooperation between your company and the communities which you exist to serve.

Tiree Transport Forum would urge you to give some further extensive consideration to finding a structured means of retaining a full service to Tiree during the period of MV Clansman dry dock. Everyone, yourselves included, is more than aware of the capacity/weight/load issues that will be presented by deployment of the MV Lord of The Isles to Oban-Coll-Tiree.

Yours sincerely,

John MacCaskill,
Tiree Transport Forum