Scotland’s lifeline ferry services are to receive £3.5 million from the Scottish Government to reduce the risk of vessels breaking down and to return them to service quicker if they do.
The move was announced today by Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson at a public meeting on the island of Arran.
The aim is to tackle obsolescence on the vessels, which would take the ferry out of service for an extended period of time.
The fund will be used to start a programme of obsolescence upgrades during the overhaul period this winter and to procure replacement parts for obsolete equipment. These parts will be installed at the next appropriate maintenance opportunity.
Mr Matheson was on Arran for a travelling Cabinet meeting and also met representatives of the Arran Economic Forum and the Arran Ferry Committee.
Mr Matheson said: “We are very much aware that, as our ferries age, additional resources will be needed to keep the vessels running so our island communities stay connected.
“The funds will be used to upgrade or replace key systems and equipment on the vessels. This will be tackled on a priority basis to avoid potential vessel breakdowns and delays to the ferry service and customers.
“During the forthcoming overhaul period this winter, CMAL and CalMac will initiate the obsolescence programme of upgrades and spare part procurement.
“This will provide future resilience providing, in the longer term, increased vessel reliability and availability.”
Welcoming the announcement of the Resilience Fund, Robbie Drummond, Managing Director of CalMac Ferries Ltd, said: ”Upgrading on-board technology to reduce the risk of breakdowns and, at the same time, helping to reducing the time out of service when faults do occur, it will improve the resilience of the fleet, and we know this will also be welcomed by the communities who rely on our lifeline ferry services.”