Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

‘These services aren’t a luxury for islanders’: Western Isles travel issues raised with transport minister

western isles transport challenges
CalMac have been consulting on plans to introduce charges for ferries. Picture by Shutterstock.

Representatives from the Western Isles have met Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth to discuss the ongoing transport issues.

The SNP’s Angus MacNeil and Alasdair Allan have raised concerns over the reliability and affordability of vital ferry services as summer fast approaches.

It comes amid ongoing disruption – with those on Uist stranded last week after a ferry collided with Lochmaddy Pier, resulting in it being pulled from service.

Sailings were cancelled, although the MV Hebrides was back in action on Monday.

Western Isles Council last week urged the government to “stop making excuses” and take action now, saying the chaos had confirmed what many islanders have feared for years.

The Scottish Government has also faced questions over the delays to two new ferries due to be added to the CalMac fleet.

In a meeting yesterday with Ms Gilruth, Mr MacNeil and Mr Allan made it clear that island communities had concerns in the lead up to the summer season.

‘These services aren’t a luxury’

It is not only the embattled ferry services concerning island residents, but other issues such as the upcoming Uig Harbour closure in October and the capacity of flights to Barra.

While the unique beach landing attracts numerous tourists, it increases pressure on the small flying-taxi service vital for Barra residents.

MSP Mr Allan said: “This was a useful and productive meeting.

“The minister’s recent visits and engagement with communities in the Western Isles has left her with a clear understanding of the challenges we face.

“We discussed the situation with the MV Lord of the Isles, CalMac’s booking policies, cancellation charges, the upcoming closure of Uig Harbour, the pressing need for more capacity on CalMac’s network, and capacity on the flights to Barra during the summer.

Plane landing on the beach at Barra Airport. Picture by Gordon Robertson

“These services aren’t a luxury for islanders: they are lifeline services, which impact and affect virtually every facet of island life.

“We need to see improvements, and yesterday’s meeting was a good chance to make that case.”

Mr MacNeil MP added: “I thought she listened to the suggestion of introducing booking windows on ferries and the wisdom of having those.

“She was also looking for further information on CalMac’s plans to introduce levies on cancelled ferry bookings.

“The idea of penalising people who make bookings and don’t travel will cause all sorts of problems for oil workers, and many other people have to change plans at short notice.”

Jenny Gilruth, Minister for Transport said: “I was very pleased to meet with Angus and Alasdair to discuss some of the challenges the Western Isles have experienced in relation to transport in recent months.

“Having spent some time during Easter recess in Barra, the Uists & Stornoway, it was a helpful opportunity to revisit some of the unique challenges which have impacted on island life – not least in relation to recent vessel outages.

“I’ve spent some time with the community board in relation to the recent Lord of the Isles outage, working with CalMac to give islanders better communication.

“I have also instructed CMAL to locate the additional tonnage that the Western Isles desperately needs; which would bring the much needed resilience the fleet currently lacks.

“Meantime I will continue to work with both Alasdair and Angus to ensure CalMac can provide a more resilient and dependable ferry service for the Western Isles.”

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]

Conversation

[[title_reg]]

Please enter the name you would like to appear on your comments. (It doesn’t have to be your real name - but nothing rude please, we are a polite bunch!) Use a combination of eight or more characters that includes an upper and lower case character, and a number.

By registering with [[site_name]] you agree to our Terms and Conditions and our Privacy Policy

Or sign up with

Facebook Google

[[content_reg_complete]]

[[title_login]]

Or login with

Forgotten your password? Reset it

[[title]]