THE First Minister has said she is "determined" to improve ferry services to Scotland's island communties in the wake of widespread concern over relaibility.

Concerns about ferry services resurfaced after it emerged journeys to and from Arran are to be disrupted till Sunday after one of the two vessels that cover the route was suddenly withdrawn from service while the other suffered ramp damage.

Operator Caledonian MacBrayne said that due to a "technical issue" with the propulsion system the MV Isle of Arran which runs from Ardrossan to Brodick has been forced to lay up to allow repairs to be carried out.

As a result, all sailings operated by the MV Isle of Arran were cancelled from Tuesday to Sunday inclusive.

Around half of the timetable services between Ardrossan and Brodick will now be running.


Jamie Green, the West Scotland Conservative MSP took concerns up with the First Minister, saying that moves to create "regular and reliable" ferry services to Scotland's island communities should be "a matter of priority".

READ MORE: Lifeline to Scotland's islands in jeopardy as ageing fleet faces soaring passenger numbers

He said:"The Ardrossan to Arran ferry is a lifeline service for residents and quite a vital part of its tourism industry.

"In the past year it has been disrupted due to continuous cancellations.

"Once again it is offline for technical reasons and only half of of the timetable is currently running."

But he said it was not just the Arran services, island communities across the country were being "let down by an aging fleet", with new replacement vessels already a year late.

"Does the First Minister understand why Scotland's island communities are quickly losing their patience with this Government's inability to provide them regular and reliable ferry services?"

He said at First Minister's Questions that it should be tackled as "a matter or priority." 

Nicola Sturgeon said "a range of work" was ongoing to ensure that those living and working on islands "have the services they deserve".

She said: "I am aware, as is the entire government about the pressures on the ferry network, we understand the impact that has on people's lives and businesses in our island communities.

READ MORE: CalMac ferry breakdown causes major disruption to Arran services

"I've heard at first hand from communities in Arran when the cabinet recently met in Arran about the pressures increased visitor numbers are putting on these lifeline services.


"These are complex challenges but we are determined to improve services.

"We have invested significantly in ferry services and we continue to work to address these issues.

"Over a billion pounds has been invested in ferry services across the Clyde and Hebrides since 2007, eight new ferries have been added to the CalMac fleet since 2007.

"We are continuing to invest in new vessels and ferry infrastructure."

The latest Arran issue come as new figures revealed that last year 911,434 passengers were clocked on its two ferry routes. That is 20 per cent more than a decade ago. The figures for cars are rising even faster, by 44 per cent from 2007 to total 229,664 in 2017.

Two new taxpayer-funded ferry vessels, one due to serve Arran, being built at Ferguson Marine Engineering’s shipyard in Port Glasgow on the Clyde have been hit by further delays.

One of the ferries, MV Glenn Sannox - which is destined for the Arran-Ardrossan route was due to enter service this summer but construction delays meant that was initially put back to the winter of 2018/19.

Earlier this year, the ship went into dry dock for work on problems with the bulbous bow section.

Ferguson Marine has now confirmed the ship will not be ready until next summer, a full year behind schedule.

Launched by Nicola Sturgeon last November, delivery was delayed from May this year to winter 2018/19, before the latest snag.

The latest postponement was announced by the Scottish Government in a written parliamentary answer.

Ferguson Marine on the Clyde won a Scottish government contract worth about £97m to build the vessels.