Politicians from across the region have welcomed the news that Transport Minister Keith Brown is to trial a Lochboisdale to Mallaig ferry service this winter, for two days a week. T
Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan commented: “I have frequently highlighted the strong desire within the islands for the re-introduction of a ferry service between Lochboisdale and Mallaig and made the arguments that this could bring significant economic benefit to Uist.
“I welcome the Scottish Government’s decision to trial this service using MV Lord of the Isles twice a week from mid-November to April, and that there is a commitment to do this for at least three winters. The decision to trial in winter has obviously been dictated by the fact that this is the time of year when a suitable vessel happens to be available, but I hope that this could act as the basis for any expanded service if the route proves popular.
“The arguments for Mallaig have been made strongly by many people in Uist and I have reflected these in my response to the ferries plan and various consultations around this issue, as well as correspondence with the Transport Minister only in the last few days.
“This decision is a significant step forward, as it also increases the frequency of service available in Uist, while also recognising the needs of Barra, which will have an improved winter service to Oban.
“After a very long campaign, I am glad to see some results. Island communities depend on their ferry service in a way that people on the mainland often don’t fully appreciate. However, the Scottish Government has, despite difficult economic circumstances, managed to make what I believe is a very significant improvement to ferry services in the islands, and one which will be welcomed in South Uist in particular.”
Angus MacNeil said: “This is news that will be welcomed by many that the SNP Government are starting a ferry service between Lochboisdale and Mallaig.
“Having met with the Managing Director Of Cal Mac, Mr Martin Dorchester a few weeks ago, I emphasised to him the need to establish a link between the islands and Mallaig. This new twice weekly return service is a definite improvement. I hope it will be well used and will go to prove that shorter ferry crossings are the way ahead.
“I would also hope that it will be timed to link reasonably well with the Sound of Barra ferry service which will help the Lochboisdale –Mallaig service have even more passengers and traffic.
“Cal Mac have to be congratulated for responding to the political ask and have made a commitment to a three year trial during the next three winters on this route.”
Highlands and Islands MSPs Rhoda Grant and David Stewart have also welcomed the news.
Rhoda Grant MSP said: “We have campaigned consistently for an additional service on the Lochboisdale – Mallaig route. The Scottish Government’s Ferry Plan dashed hopes of seeing this service returned, but we continued to lobby and are pleased that the Government has now listened and has agreed to introduce a two day a week trial.”
“This is great news for the people of South Uist.”
David Stewart MSP said: “In recent weeks I have pushed the Transport Minister for answers over the Government’s intentions towards a Lochboisdale – Mallaig service. As recently as last Friday I tabled a question on this issue and I am delighted therefore to learn of today’s announcement.
“The answer I received from the Minister last week did not make it clear what was being discussed in terms of a Lochboisdale – Mallaig service. I therefore tabled a further question on Friday asking for this information. By keeping up pressure on the Scottish Government I am pleased the Minister has bowed to pressure and finally heard the voices of the people of South Uist.”