The surreal reason CalMac doesn't have a timetable to sail with – Brian Wilson

It was good this newspaper gave front-page coverage to the latest debacle visited upon islands served by Caledonian MacBrayne – an unprecedented delay in publishing timetables so nobody can book beyond March.

MSPs should be up in arms over delays to the CalMac ferry timetable (Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
MSPs should be up in arms over delays to the CalMac ferry timetable (Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

While the rest of the travel world is out selling itself for the season ahead, the west coast of Scotland is closed for business. However, while CalMac are in the front line, the reason they gave for there being no timetables bordered on the surreal.

According to CalMac, “finalised timetables will be issued when Transport Scotland confirms the 2023 fare levels. Details such as sailing times have been agreed and are ready to be released as soon as a decision is made”.

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So the whole system has been waiting for someone in Edinburgh to work out what CalMac fares will be in just three months’ time! One wonders what vital economic intelligence is required before concluding what it should cost to cross from Ardrossan to Brodick or from Oban to Castlebay?

Why were the constituency MSPs who represent Islay, Mull, Arran and the Outer Isles not banging down the doors of Transport Scotland – that is, the Scottish Government – weeks ago to demand they get this sorted?

To be told you can’t book because CalMac can’t work out a timetable is bad enough. To be told it’s really because Edinburgh hasn’t found time to calculate the fares reeks of arrogance and contempt towards island communities – which really is the underlying theme of the whole ferry saga.

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