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Shutdown for island ferries on the horizon as urgent repairs to two linkspans are needed

The ferry at Vidlin, Shetland
The ferry at Vidlin, Shetland

Urgent repairs are required at ferry linkspans at two Hebridean islands, requiring a shutdown for a series of days over the coming weeks.

The linkspans are the bridge ramps between the ship and the quayside, allowing cars and lorries to drive on and off the ferry.

Work must be expedited now for safety reasons before problems arise during the busy summer season.

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Vehicles will not be transported to Tarbert in Harris nor to the island of Coll while the work is underway.

Harbour authority, Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited, (CMAL) said the wire ropes used for adjusting the height of the linkspans need to be replaced.

The linkspan at Coll will be closed after the lunchtime departure of MV Lord of the Isles this coming Tuesday and will reopen that Saturday morning which will allow the contractor to install new steel wires on one side of the linkspan.

Major refurbishment of Shetland’s ferry linkspans to begin next year

To replace the remaining ropes, the structure will be out of action again after the first ferry sails on the following Monday with work completed in time for morning ferry on Thursday, January 31.

Vehicles for the Harris – Skye run are expected to be diverted onto the Stornoway – Ullapool route. A passenger-only service is anticipated to operate to timetable.

The Tarbert linkspan will shut when the MV Hebrides departs on the afternoon of Wednesday 27 February departs and should be ready for the ferry docking late morning on Tuesday 5 March.

This will allow both sets of wire rope replacements to be carried out during a single closure period.

Ramsay Muirhead, head of civil engineering at CMAL, 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.”

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