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The main Isle of Arran ferry which operates the Ardrossan-Brodick route, reveals Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) will be futher delayed until at least March, reports the Ardrossan&SaltcoatsHerald.

MV Caledonian Isles which is undergoing annual overhaul at Dales Marine Service, Greenock, as Afloat reported yesterday, was supposed to be back on the route tomorrow, 25 January.

According to CalMac the ferry will however remain out of action for weeks as it requires more steel repairs.

This will lead to the MV Isle of Arran -also currently out of action - could be the only ferry on the Ardrossan-Brodick route until March 6 at least. (Noting, in an update, can confirm, following repairs and sea-trials, the ferry was tracked today, with the 13:55hrs sailing from Arran to the mainland which was completed just before 14:45hrs), for further detailed sailing updates, click CalMac’s service status here and information including the chartered catamaran MV Alfred.

As for the setback with MV Caledonian Isles, this is the latest blow to hit the Arran ferry service in recent weeks, given the cancellations due to storms, notably this week and issues at the ‘Irish’ berth in Ardrossan which led to its closure following a dive survey. The resultant impact is on the MV Alfred, the temporary replacement for the Caledonian Isles, which can't operate out of Ardrossan.

With the MV Isle of Arran having to be sidelined too after a fault was discovered on the main starboard engine on the 40-year-old veteran vessel, essential maintenance was carried out while the ferry was out of action during the Storms Isha/Jocelyn.

The ferry however resumed service today as the part needed to repair MV Isle of Arran, thankfully had arrived and engineers worked on the ferry with the sea trials as expected were carried out this morning.

More here on the Firth of Clyde short-sea service route which takes just under an hour’s passage time.

Published in Ferry

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!