CalMac have defended the additional capacity of the new Stornoway to Ullapool ferry due to take over from MV Isle of Lewis later this year.
This is following comments from Cllr Roddy MacKay, who had described the provision of the new ferry MV Loch Seaforth as ‘woefully inadequate’ for the islands.
Cllr MacKay had said of the new ferry: “We are being given a ferry that is 20% slower than the new ones serving the Northern Isles (15 mins faster is pretty pathetic in this day and age) and we have minimal changes in capacity.”
A CalMac have now issued a response to the comments. A spokesman said: “Cllr Mackay is mistaken in his belief that the additional capacity to be provided by MV Loch Seaforth will be as few as 28 cars per week. The MV Loch Seaforth can actually carry 40% more cars than the MV Isle of Lewis PER sailing. The MV Isle of Lewis’ working capacity is around 101 cars and the MV Loch Seaforth will be around 142.
“In practice this means that each week nearly 1100 additional car spaces will be provided, and during the peak sailings, even allowing for the loss of the late Wednesday and Friday sailings when the Loch Seaforth goes to round the clock operations, nearly 700 additional cars can be carried when compared to the MV Isle of Lewis’ current capacity.”
The spokesperson said that following the recent visit to Stornoway by senior CalMac representatives, the peak timetable will continue to operate as scheduled until September and it is proposed that MV Loch Seaforth will then continue to operate on the core timetable, as operated at present, to allow her time to bed-in, up until the start of the Summer 2015 timetable.
He added: “It would be foolish to consider setting new timetables until the Loch Seaforth’s capabilities have been fully assessed. We are fully committed to consulting with the local community on the timetable for Summer 2015 and this process will start in due course.”