THE AMOUNT being paid out each month in compensation over service failures has more than doubled in a year as it can be revealed that one of nationalised ferry operator CalMac key vessels will be expected to be on the sidelined for over a month.

The nation's ferry crisis has cost nationalised ferry operator CalMac nearly £900,000 over five years New data has revealed that customer rights claims paid out by Scottish Government-owned Calmac have soared to over £215,000 in the first four months of 2022/233 - an average of £53,000 per month.

The average monthly payout for 2021/22 was £21,750 - with a total of £261,000 forked out for the entire year.

Four years ago the average monthly claim was at just £13,250.

Calls have been made for the Scottish Government to "fix the shambles" hitting lifeline island routes as CalMac has had to pay out £863,000 in claims oever service failures since 2018/19, when two lifeline ferries were due to have been launched to serve island communities.

The claims consist of money paid out to customers for meals and accommodation, transport and compensation as a result of cancellations.

The details have emerged as islanders faced another week of disruption due to failures with the ageing CalMac ferry fleet.

The Herald on Sunday last week revealed that islanders had been hit with the loss of two of CalMac's ten largest lifeline ferries for weeks, with one suffering rust, which concerns surfaced over continuing food shortages.

It emerged that 36-year-old MV Isle of Mull and 38-year-old MV Hebridean Isles have suffered serious problems for weeks causing major disruption in the ferry network which has led to the closure of one route as ferries have been switched around. MV Isle of Mull has suffered hull rust issues and subsequently engine issues while MV Hebridean Isles has had bow visor faults.

And ferry users complained that concerns over the ferry being unable to berth at Ardrossan meaning a crucial 7am service used for deliveries is cancelled has led to food shortages on Arran around Christmas.

It has can be revealed, that MV Hebridean Isles, which first hit problems on Boxing Day remains out of action and will not be back until February 3 at the earliest with the Arran service, one of Scotland's busiest, having to revert to a single vessel timetable.

MV Isle of Mull which returned to service last week - ended up being offline on Friday for further "essential repairs" which led to the cancellation of services to South Uist.

There has been further disruption with a string of cancellations as 23-year-old MV Lochnevis, which serves the Small Isles of Canna, Rùm, Eigg and Muck was sidelined after an issue with a generator emerged on Tuesday. CalMac told users that it was investigating options for a charter vessel to run on Wednesday and the issues was resolved on Friday.

HeraldScotland:

Two new lifeline ferries Glen Sannox and Hull 802 were due online in the first half of 2018 when Ferguson Marine was under the control of tycoon Jim McColl, with one intitially to serve Arran and the other to serve the Skye triangle routes to North Uist and Harris, but they are at least five years late. The last estimates suggested the costs of delivery are due to soar from £97m to at least £350m.

Scottish Labour, which has been tracking the compensation levels, warned that the late Ferguson’s Marine ferries along with "years of poor planning under the SNP" have left island communities with an ageing fleet and left taxpayers with spiralling costs.

Scottish Labour islands spokesman Rhoda Grant said: "These spiralling costs expose what a mess the SNP have made of lifeline ferry services in Scotland.

“Our ferry fleet has been left to rust because of years of failed planning, as well as the ferry fiasco where the Scottish Government have failed to deliver two new ferries.

“Now islanders are stuck with chaos, cancellations and delays while taxpayers foot the bill.

“The SNP have no short-term answers and no long term plan to fix this shambles. We need a national ferry building programme that supports Scotland’s shipbuilding industry and delivers the ferries we need. In the meantime, they must buy additional tonnage to have enough capacity to cover the daily breakdowns that are happening due to the ageing fleet.”

Some 18 of of CalMac's 35 working ferries deployed across Scotland are now over 25 years old.

The oldest in the CalMac fleet is is the Isle of Cumbrae which is 47-years old.

In 2021 the state-controlled ferry operator spent more than £28.5m on repairs to their vessels last year, compared with just £9.5m in 2011.

MV Hebridean Isles leaves Islay

Since the SNP came to power in 2007, the average age of Scotland's lifeline vessels has soared from 17 years to nearly 26 years. Back in 1974 the typical ferry was just 13 years old.

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said: "It is worth pointing out that the vast majority of cancelled sailings related to weather impacts. In January and February 2022 alone, 92.75% of cancellations were due to either weather or Covid-19. The facts show that in 2022, of the 171,403 scheduled sailings across the CHFS [Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service ]network, 6.6% were cancelled, and of these, 1% were cancelled due to technical issues.

“It is clearly a decision for a ship’s master as to whether or not a vessel should sail and it would not be appropriate to question that professional judgement – which is made on safety grounds. It’s important those with expertise are given the respect to do so.

“In the last 12 months alone we have placed orders for four new major vessels in addition to the two already under construction at Port Glasgow. The Scottish Government has invested more than £2 billion in our ferry services since 2007 and we continue to work towards introducing more capacity and greater resilience on the Clyde and Hebrides network.”

A spokesman for CalMac said: “We would always encourage passengers who are entitled to compensation to make a claim to us.

“During 2022 we improved the process for making claims, which included the promotion of a simplified application process. We also added links concerning passenger rights to the disruption texts that were sent to customers during all disruptions. This assisted customers who were entitled to compensation to make claims.”