Late CalMac summer ferries timetable is yet another unacceptable blow to island communities – Scotsman comment

What is it about state-owned ferry services and deadlines?

A CalMac ferry sails near Jura in the Inner Hebrides (Picture: Allan Wright/Scottish Viewpoint/Shutterstock)
A CalMac ferry sails near Jura in the Inner Hebrides (Picture: Allan Wright/Scottish Viewpoint/Shutterstock)

Given the fiasco over the two much-needed, but much-delayed ferries being built at the state-owned Ferguson Marine yard, one would have thought that ensuring there were no other problems would be a priority.

And yet, CalMac has now revealed that its timetable for services between March 31 and June 4 will not be ready until the end of January. A date for the rest of the summer timetable is awaited.

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This means that people booking their summer holidays, who will understandably want to confirm their travel arrangements, may well be put off, causing real damage to the tourism industry, a vital mainstay of island economies.

Alistair Carmichael, the MP for Orkney and Shetland, said the late timetable publication was “yet another kick in the teeth” for islanders. “SNP/Green mismanagement of Scotland’s lifeline ferry services is a disgrace," he said. "If you told people in Glasgow that their train and buses would be treated in this way, there would be riots in George Square." And he added that even when services were supposed to run, there was currently no guarantee that they actually would, judging by performance in recent times.

The way islanders have been messed around in recent years is simply intolerable. If our politicians, CalMac and others involved will not put their house in order because it is the right thing to do, then the Scottish people should rise up in sympathy with their fellow citizens and declare “we are all islanders”. The threat of serious political consequences may be the only way to make the government live up to its responsibilities.

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