The delayed Calmac ferries being built at the Ferguson Marine shipyard will carry fewer passengers than first envisioned, it has emerged.
In response to safety certification measures required by the regulator, the Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa will each have a maximum carrying capacity of 852 passengers, down from the original plan of 1,000.
Last week, the Government-owned shipyard’s chief executive David Tydeman said the cost of the vessels has risen further.
His letter to MSPs said Calmac and the agency CMAL were considering a maximum capacity of 852 passengers to accommodate the required number of stairwells and passageways.
On Tuesday, transport minister Fiona Hyslop said CMAL would only take delivery of the vessels once they had been signed off by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency regulator as well as the class society, which surveys ships.
She told the Scottish Parliament that all systems including LNG propulsion will need to be completed – something which will require special pipework.
Hyslop said: “Any further delay to the delivery of these lifeline vessels is extremely disappointing.
“The reduced passenger capacity noted in the update from the yard is expected to be formally accepted through appropriate contract amendments.”
The certification issues will not affect the vehicle-carry capacity on the ferries, she said.
The Scottish Conservatives’ Edward Mountain, who is also convener of Holyrood’s Transport Committee, said some of the other yards bidding for the Calmac contract had been rejected as they did not meet the required passenger capacity.
As this has now been reduced by 15%, he said “it is difficult to see why CMAL should have to accept the Glen Sannox and 802 (Glen Rosa) vessels”.
“Islanders haven’t accepted that there are going to be less passengers and the reason we are in this position is because Ferguson Marine only spoke to the Coastguard Agency in June of this year about whether the boats met the specifications set out, based on 2016 dated regulations.
“So, what we’ve got is late ferries, under capacity, over budget and not what the islanders were promised.”
Hyslop responded by saying CalMac would have six new ferries in its fleet by 2026.
She said: “What they (islanders) don’t want are speculative headlines that undermine the understanding that the vast majority of ferries in Scotland do run to time, that there are far more passengers being carried than ever before and there are far more routes than ever before.”
The latest cost increases mean the total bill for the two ferries is currently thought to be £360m.
The expected delivery date of the Glen Sannox is now March 31 next year, and for the Glen Rosa it is May 31, 2025.
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