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Ferries cancelled after technical fault on MV Loch Frisa on Oban to Craignure route

Islanders launch survey to assess impact of widespread disruption on route

The Loch Frisa on the water near the port in Craignure sailing out onto a calm sea.
The Loch Frisa near Craignure, Mull. Image: Sandy McCook/ DC Thomson

CalMac’s MV Loch Frisa services between Oban and Craignure were cancelled early today due to a technical fault.

Following a weekend of mixed messages of who could travel on the route, Bank Holiday Monday has begun with a concern about one of the newest ferries on the West Coast and Hebridean routes.

The fault was repaired and service will resume from the 10am Craignure sailing.

CalMac has asked people to check ahead, and continues to encourage anyone without a booking to travel via Lochaline on the Morvern peninsula.

A spokeswoman for CalMac said: “Amber service between Oban and Craignure on Monday May 29.

“Due to a technical issue with MV Loch Frisa, the below sailings are cancelled.

“This is due to an engine issue.”

The Loch Frisa is one of the youngest ferries on the CalMac network.

Community Survey under way about disruption

At the weekend ferry users were told they could turn up for a ferry to Mull, via Oban. But later CalMac said only those with booking should arrive at the ferry terminal.

Islanders then shared information on social media for those who were forced to travel via Lochaline, asking people to make a claim 45p per mile from CalMac.

Due to the disruption, the Mull and Iona Ferry Committee has launched a survey for business owners to ask them to speak up if they have been impacted by problems with the ticketing system.

A spokesman for Mull and Iona Ferry Committee said: “CalMac recently introduced a new ticketing system, and with the new technology there have been numerous complaints from islanders.

“Together with the community councils of Mull and Iona, Mull and Iona Community Trust, North West Mull Community Woodland and South West Mull and Iona Development, we are opening a survey to measure the economic impact of recent ferry disruption.

The Loch Frisa which sails between Oban and Craignure.
The view from the rear of the Loch Frisa. Image: Sandy McCook/ DC Thomson.

“We have heard about delivery delays and building project disruption, cancelled accommodation bookings, lower footfall as result of fewer day trippers, boat trips running with very few passengers, island exports missing deliveries, coach tours denied carriage and tourists uncertain if they can get to the island.”

Survey closes on Friday

The scope of the survey will also consider:

  • Capacity reductions and timetable disruption caused by dry-docking overruns and breakdowns through the winter of 2022/23.
  • Reduced capacity on the Corran ferry from October  2022, and then complete outage from early April to early June.
  • Capacity restrictions and timetable disruption through the early summer timetable period, caused by the delay to winter overhaul.
  • Disruption caused by the introduction of CalMac’s new ticketing system.

The survey will close at midnight on Friday June 2.

Robert Morrison, CalMac’s operations director, said: “We take our responsibility to support island communities, economies and businesses very seriously and I’m sorry for the disruption to services which we know can be extremely challenging for customers.

“There have been some issues with the new booking and ticketing platform which is to be expected with a change project of this size and complexity.

“Since launch, 220,000 accounts and 145,000 bookings have been migrated across. Our senior management team is meeting twice daily to progress and resolve any issues, as well as working closely with our supplier.

“Delays to the annual maintenance schedule meant that we experienced a short-term constraint on service capacity between Oban and Craignure. A full service returned to this route on the afternoon of Sunday 28 May with MV Isle of Mull returning to service alongside MV Loch Frisa.”

He continued: “During the period of disruption, we made it a priority to find the best solution for customers including the addition of a second vessel running to and from Mull via Lochaline-Fishnish. Due to the closure of Castlebay linkspan, our vessel deployment options were limited, and this impacted on the support we could offer.

“We are working with an ageing fleet, with more than 38% exceeding 30 years of age and increasing challenges around obsolescence and obtaining parts.

“We apologise for the recent disruption on the Oban-Craignure route and recognise that this has been extremely challenging for our customers and local communities.”