Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) has sailed home as UK ferry operator of the year at the National Transport Awards 2014.
This is the first time the prestigious awards have included a ferry category and CalMac received the accolade in recognition of the services it delivers to coastal and island communities across Scotland.
Martin Dorchester, chief executive of CalMac, said: “There is something special about being the first name on this award and I’m delighted for everyone in the company who has worked so hard to achieve it. The environments we operate in means that, as an operator, we face many unique challenges.
“However, our experience and knowledge of the communities we serve helps us overcome those challenges and makes us stand out as an operator. We are proud to be part of the communities we serve, ideally placed to listen and respond to what they need from a ferry operator.
“I believe our commitment to going the extra mile and not just delivering the basic lifeline service to our communities was instrumental in this award win.”
CalMac defeated ferry operators from across the UK, including BrittanyFerries, DFDS Seaways, Hovertravel and Red Funnel Isle of Wight Ferries, to be named ‘operator of the year’.
The awards are supported by the Department for Transport and independent passenger watchdog, Passenger Focus. They recognise the companies who have worked above and beyond to improve the experience for their transport users.
CalMac, which employs more than 1,300 people, is one of the largest companies headquartered in Scotland. It has been serving the Highlands and Islands of the west coast of Scotland for more than 160 years and provides services to 28 communities.
Last year it carried 4.8 million passengers, with just under half being tourists.
The company is currently investing heavily in a programme of enhancements across its network. This includes the introduction of a new operations centre and reservations system, as well as supporting a vessel replacement programme.
This latest award success follows CalMac winning the prestigious Guardian and Observer Travel Awards for the fourth year in a row in 2013. The company was also named Public Transport Operator of the Year at the Scottish Transport Awards.
“Transport is a crucial part of everyday life – whether it’s commuting to work, getting to school, or visiting friends and family. It plays a central role in supporting local economies, linking businesses, services and goods with markets, and driving growth and prosperity. The National Transport Awards are an opportunity to celebrate innovation and excellence across our transport sector, and to recognise industry professionals who go the extra mile to deliver efficient and effective transport across the country.” said Patrick McLoughlin MP, UK Secretary of State for Transport.