The UK Government will today wade into the row over Scotland’s troubled ferry services by chairing a “summit” with CalMac and the island communities relying on it.

Scotland Office minister John Lamont will host a roundtable that includes CalMac chief executive Robbie Drummond and Operations Director Robert Morrison. 

Also taking part are the CalMac Ferries Communities Board, Colonsay Lifeline Transport Group, Arran Ferry Action Group, Arran Community Development Trust, Mull and Iona Community Trust,  and Tobermory Harbour Association.

North Ayrshire and Argyll & Bute Councils, businesses, MSPs and MPs are also due to participate in the event as part of the UK Government’s Islands Forum.

Ferry operator CalMac is owned by the Scottish Government and transport is devolved.

However, in light of unreliable services and the overdue ferries at Ferguson Marine, the Scotland Office said the UK Government was “monitoring the situation closely”.

CalMac cancelled 40,989 sailings between September 2018 and April 2023, with “non-weather related cancellations” such as breakdowns in the ageing fleet, rising from 1,371 in 2017//18 to a peak of 5,805 in 2021/22, before dropping to 4,620 in 2022/23. 

Mr Lamont said meetings in the West of Scotland last summer brought home the problems that cancelled ferries and an ageing fleet have on islanders' lives day to day.

He said: “It became clear to me that there was an opportunity for CalMac and Transport Scotland to engage more effectively with the people and communities they serve.

"I want to ensure that their voices of stakeholders are being heard, which is why I have offered to host this forum today. It is important that we come together to find solutions to these problems where we can.

“I am aware that some stakeholders have ideas for how CalMac services can be improved and it would be great if we could build on some of these ideas.”

The two dual-fuel ferries beign built at Ferguson Marine, the Glen Sannox and Glen Rosa, were supposed to cost £97 and enter service in 2018.

They are now expected to cost more than £350m and have yet to start sea trials.