A night freight ferry service will return to the Stornoway-Ullapool route this weekend after its suspension led to severe criticism of operators CalMac.
The issue was caused by the MV Loch Seaforth being removed from service this week after a major breakdown.
In the meantime the MV Isle of Lewis was picking up the day service for passengers and for freight on the route. But the overnight freight service had been suspended until further notice.
It led to Roddie Mackay, the leader of Western Isles Council, accusing CalMac of being “out of touch” and said it showed a lack of sensitivity to island issues and the economic pressures being faced.
However the night service will resume on Saturday with an additional evening sailing, and continue until Wednesday.
CalMac said work is ongoing to continue this timetable beyond Wednesday and this will be confirmed as soon as possible.
The Loch Seaforth is on its way to the James Watt dock in Greenock where specialist engineers will complete necessary repairs.
Full investigation into cause of breakdown
CalMac said it is too early to speculate on the cause of the engine failure and a full investigation into the cause will also be carried out.
The ferry operator is continuing to engage with the key businesses affected by the removal of the Loch Seaforth, and they are being kept updated about all developments.
It said while the possibility of temporarily hiring other vessels has been investigated, no suitable options are available for use at present.
Passengers looking to make bookings for the Ullapool-Stornoway service are being advised to regularly check service updates, CalMac social media channels, and the website for the latest advice.
Robert Morrison, operations director for CalMac, said: “Getting freight moving to and from the island has been a priority since the Loch Seaforth was taken out of service, and we have been working non-stop to find a solution.
“Losing a major vessel is frustrating for everyone and it is vital to have her repaired and returned to service as soon as possible.”
The council has previously accused CalMac of “high handed disregard” for customers over freight services.