Emergency £1m-a-month relief ferry to remain in service for extra six months

MV Alfred will have been chartered for two years following the recent extension.

Emergency £1m-a-month MV Alfred ferry to continue serving Arran to Ardrossan route for extra six months Transport Scotland

A catamaran chartered by CalMac to ease the strain on Arran’s ferry link is to remain in service for a further six months.

Transport Scotland has agreed to extend the current charter of MV Alfred until March 2025 to provide additional capacity during the busy summer period and winter.

The vessel, which is owned by Pentland Ferries, joined the CalMac fleet to support MV Caledonian Isles in May 2023 following months of problems and cancellations on the Arran to Ardrossan route.

It was originally only due to serve the route for nine months, at a cost of £9m.

In that time, MV Alfred has been modified to allow her to accommodate all types of vehicles except motorhomes of six metres or any vehicle towing a caravan.

MV Caledonian Isles, which has ordinarily served the route between Ardrossan – Brodick is still on schedule to return to service by the end of August, CalMac has said.

The vessel has been in drydock for extensive repairs since January.

In addition, during MV Alfred’s six-month extension period, it is expected that MV Glen Sannox and MV Isle of Islay will enter service.

CalMac’s interim CEO, Duncan Mackison, said: “MV Alfred has proven to be an invaluable addition to our fleet during a particularly challenging period, and we are pleased this extension will see her remain in service until next year.

“The extension of her charter will add resilience to our service for the remainder of the summer period, and over the winter months when vessels enter overhaul for annual maintenance.

“During this extension period, we expect two new major vessels in MV Glen Sannox and MV Isle of Islay to enter service, putting us in a strong position to improve the lifeline services we provide to islands across our network.”

Transport secretary, Fiona Hyslop, added: “I’m pleased CalMac have reached an agreement with Pentland Ferries on a further six-month extension of the charter for MV Alfred, helping to maintain resilience on the Clyde and Hebrides ferry network for the rest of the summer and into the winter months.

“The Scottish Government is committed to improving our lifeline ferry services and better meeting the needs of island communities, with six new vessels currently under construction set to join the fleet by 2026.”

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