The boss of Caledonian Macbrayne believes his firm is set to retain the lifeline ferry service to the Western Isles when its operator is unveiled in the Spring and has pledged to “win back” services to Orkney and Shetland it lost in 2012.
Martin Dorchester said he was “confident” the state-owned firm could beat rival Serco when Transport Scotland unveils the winner of the £1billion contract after the Scottish Parliament elections in May.
Mr Dorchester, who came in to turn around the fortunes of the struggling ferry operator just weeks before it lost its contract to deliver ferry services to Orkney and Shetland, also believes the Scottish Government-owned firm is now in a good position to take over international transport services.
Barnsley-born Mr Dorchester said although the firm last year lost out on a bid to run ferry services to Sweden’s largest island, Gotland, this year it proved its ability to win new business.
Calmac’s parent company, David Macbrayne will become the operator of the Marchwood Military Port in April through its joint venture company, Solent Gateway, after it won the work from the Ministry of Defence.
“I have big aspirations for David Macbrayne,” Mr Dorchester said.
“Short term it is to win the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) contract.
“In the slightly longer term, we aim to take back our contract in the Northern Isles, because it is ours,” he said.
“I also want to grow David Macbrayne as a wider international group. But I want to grow it as a wider international group that doesn’t lose sight of what it is and its core values. It is about making people’s lives better.”
Transport Scotland is expected to unveil the new tender for the Northern Isles ferry service to Orkney and Shetland in 2017 before it is awarded in 2018.
The current operator is Serco Northlink, which won the rights to run the service in 2012, taking over from Calmac.