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CalMac to Redeploy Arran Ferry to Increase Islay Capacity

8th August 2016
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CalMac to redeploy Arran route ferry, M.V. Isle of Arran (seen berthed at the island at Brodick) so to provide added capacity on Islay route while a ferry undergoes repairs in dry-dock. A second Isle of Arran serving ferry however will maintain services to and from Ardrossan. CalMac to redeploy Arran route ferry, M.V. Isle of Arran (seen berthed at the island at Brodick) so to provide added capacity on Islay route while a ferry undergoes repairs in dry-dock. A second Isle of Arran serving ferry however will maintain services to and from Ardrossan. Photo: Jehan Ashmore

#ArranRedeployed - Scottish ferry operator, Caledonian MacBrayne is to redeploy a vessel from the Isle of Arran route to Islay and moving another to 24 hour working to increase capacity on the route.

The withdrawal of the Islay serving MV Hebridean Isles for urgent repairs reported last week here on Afloat.ie has left the Southern Hebrides island working with a single vessel over the last two weeks.

To ease disruption on the route, CalMac has now familiarised a new crew to operate the MV Finlaggan and the vessel will run an overnight freight service between Islay and Kennacraig, as well as her normal daytime timetable. Large vehicles such as caravans and camper vans will also be moved on to the overnight sailing to free up space during the day.

"We appreciate the inconvenience this ongoing disruption is causing and looked at all the options to address the issues the island is experiencing. This is particularly busy week,with the Islay Show taking place on Thursday, so we need to use the available fleet resources we have at our disposal to meet demand. Unfortunately, this means moving the the MV Isle of Arran off her normal Arran route. We realise this is not ideal, but hope the community on Arran understand the reasons behind this decision and we appreciate their cooperation," said CalMac's director of operations, Drew Collier.

"We feel this is the best solution we have to meet the demands we are currently experiencing across the network."

The MV Isle of Arran will sail the Kennacraig to Islay route begining from tomorrow, Tuesday and also Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

"We will be monitoring this on a daily basis and hopefully the redeployment of the Isle of Arran will be very short term only. Our technical team is working hard to get the Hebridean Isles back in service as quickly as possible and we appreciate people's patience and continuing understanding," added Drew.

Afloat adds while Isle of Arran is redeployed, her Arran fleetmate, M.V. Caledonian Isles will continue to operate sailings as normal on the Ardrossan-Brodick route

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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