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Displaying items by tag: Record Investment Overhaul

The largest ferry operator in Scotland, state-owned Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) is to spend more than £9 million targeted at vessel resilience in a response to challenges of an increasing average age of fleet.

According to CalMac, this is in addition to the annual planned maintenance expenditure to ensure every vessel is ready for another year of supporting communities across the west coast. The resilience programme is more than double the amount spent last year.

Including inter-island services, CalMac runs a total of 49 routes served by 33 vessels each of which is required to undergo a period of annual dry dock maintenance.

'Trying to ensure that every vessel gets the proper levels of maintenance and upgrades, while keeping lifeline ferry services running is an extremely complex operation,' said CalMac's Director of Asset Management, Julie Philpott.

'Not all vessels are suitable for every route and harbour, meaning the matrix we need to design to ensure service continuity is long in the planning.'

'We try where we can, within the resources available to us, to provide as seamless a service as possible during this period, matching suitable vessels to cover routes. But getting every vessel in for maintenance requires us to do a certain amount of manoeuvring. We try and keep inconvenience to a minimum, and hope the travelling public can understand why we have to make the vessel changes that we do at this time of year.'

The £9 million investment is being targeted at vessel resilience in a fleet which on average is increasingly ageing. This is in addition to the annual planned maintenance expenditure to ensure every vessel is ready for another year of supporting communities across the west coast. The resilience programme  is more than double the amount spent last year.

Including inter-island services, CalMac runs a total of 49 routes served by 33 vessels each of which is required to undergo a period of annual dry dock maintenance.

'Trying to ensure that every vessel gets the proper levels of maintenance and upgrades, while keeping lifeline ferry services running is an extremely complex operation,' said CalMac's Director of Asset Management, Julie Philpott.

'Not all vessels are suitable for every route and harbour, meaning the matrix we need to design to ensure service continuity is long in the planning.'

'We try where we can, within the resources available to us, to provide as seamless a service as possible during this period, matching suitable vessels to cover routes. But getting every vessel in for maintenance requires us to do a certain amount of manoeuvring. We try and keep inconvenience to a minimum, and hope the travelling public can understand why we have to make the vessel changes that we do at this time of year.'

On top of the regular cyclical planned maintenance CalMac are carrying out more then 90 major projects to the fleet this year. This includes new engines on the MV Loch Striven and Loch Tarbert, replacement pitch control systems on the MV Clansman and Isle of Lewis, a new bow thruster on the MV Hebridean Isles (above: photo/story at Kennacraig), replacement ramps and new generators on various vessels.

'For those not involved in the refit process the sheer scale of the tasks involved is hard to picture. Last year we fitted more then 11km of electrical wiring and this year new CCTV networks and pitch control systems alone will see 18km of new cable installed,' said Julie.

'Some communities may lose their regular vessel for longer periods due to the scale of the work being carried out this winter. However, this additional time out of timetable will help support delivery of a more resilient service in the long term. Customers will be able to see meaningful improvements in service,' she added.

Work on the vessels is carried out at yards in Greenock, Troon, Liverpool, Ardmaliesh, Leith and Aberdeen. The North Sea port Afloat adds is where NorthLink Ferries operated by private company Serco last month was awarded a £450m contract from the Scottish Government to continue serving Orkney and the Shetland Islands. 

Since the announcement, according to BBC News, CalMac is challenging the Scottish government's decision not to give it a contract to run Northern Isles ferries.

Serco won a six-year contract in 2012 and it was named the preferred bidder to continue the service. However CalMac, which is owned by the Scottish government, says its tender was cheaper than Serco's.

For more on the report from last month click here.

Published in Ferry
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