LIFELINE ferry and rail services have been hit by high winds and snow causing travel disruption just as new timetables are brought in to provide greater reliablity because of Covid-related absences.

Starting from yesterday, CalMac have been running a reduced timetable as it is unable to maintain usual service with the number of staff who are having to self-isolate.

It comes as ScotRail began withdrawing or amending services from 12 different routes throughtout the country amid a surge of Covid cases amongst their staff.

But weather conditions have further hit ferry and rail services across Scotland.

A Met Office yellow warning for snow and ice remains in place for most of Scotland north of Perth till 9am.

The weather forecaster said that frequent snow showers and icy stretches are expected, leading to some travel disruption, particularly for higher routes.

It warned of difficult driving conditions at times on higher routes and some injuries from slips and falls on icy surfaces There were further warnings of some icy patches on some untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths.

And there was also warnings that roads and railways are likely to be affected with longer journey times by road, bus and train services.

Police Scotland warned that conditions for travel "may be hazardous and extra caution should be exercised" in the local authority areas of Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Highland and Moray.

Ferry services especially have already been badly hit.

Services on one of Scotland's busiest crossings to Brodick on the Isle of Arran were cancelled for the rest of the day, with the first sailing not expected until 8.20am on Wednesday.

A potential alternative shuttle services route from Tarbert to Lochranza on Arran was in operation.

By road, that would mean those travelling from Ardrossan going on a 120 mile detour to get to and from Tarbert - a journey that would take around three hours. The Ardrossan to Brodick ferry crossing usually takes just 35 minutes.

And north westerly winds gusting up to 46mph were blamed as all sailings, including a freight service was cancelled on another of Scotland's busiest crossing to Stornoway, the capital of Lewis and Harris. A further 7am sailing is already cancelled for tomorrow (Wednesday).


A passenger charter service linking Barra and Eriskay was cancelled to the end of the day due to weather.

Two Wednesday morning sailings between Mallaig and Armadale on the Isle of Skye were cancelled and adverse weather was blamed for the cancellation of two sailings later today (Tuesday).

Strong winds of up to 45mph were blamed for cancellations to two services to and from Tobermory on Mull on Tuesday morning.

Weather disruption has been blamed for changes to the timetable for services to and from the Small Isles - Eigg, Muck, Rum and Canna - this morning.

Sailings were also cancelled for the day to Berneray and South Uist Weather and sea conditions meant that there was to be no services to or from Gigha on Tuesday.

The service between Mull and Iona was also disrupted due to strong north-westerly winds.

Services to Islay were disrupted and an amended timetable put in place after 11-year-old MV Finlaggan was withdrawn for deep cleaning after a number of crew members returned positive Covid tests and to allow replacement crew to be sourced.

ScotRail services were also hit.

Due to a speed restriction because of snow and ice services to and from Inverness from Glasgow and Edinburgh were to delayed or revised in a move expected till 2pm on Tuesday.

The train operators said it received reports of signal faults at three different locations between Carrbridge and Inverness due to heavy snow.

There were also a series of cancellations to services between Edinburgh and North Berwick after a member of on-train staff took ill.

Dornoch Bridge was closed to high sided vehicles due to the high winds and a 40mph speed limit was implemented on the Forth Road Bridge and the A1 Tyne Bridge.

It comes as an “essential services” ferry timetable began operating from yesterday (Monday) to at least January 23 with the route between Mallaig, Invernesshire and Lochboisdale on South Uist suspended.

Cuts to nine other of CalMac’s 26 routes include introducing a single vessel rather than the usual double ferry timetable for one of Scotland's busiest routes - to and from Brodick on Arran.

Changes across the ferry network were announced on Hogmanay after CalMac said that as of December 31, 93 crew and 18 port staff were unavailable because of Covid.

The Scottish Government-controlled ferry operator said that that equates to a Covid absence rate of 9% amongst vessel crews and 5% amongst port staff and is in addition to a non-coronavirus absence rate of 6%.

Further cuts were announced on trains from today.

A temporary ScotRail timetable was introduced from January 4 to January 28 “to give customers some certainty about which services are running” as scientists warn the peak of Omicron infections is still several weeks away.

ScotRail was withdrawing or amending services from 12 different routes throughout the country from today (Tuesday).

The rail operator has said that the alterations are mainly in the Central Belt of Scotland, but passengers from all areas of the country are being asked to check the status of their journey before heading to their local station.