Arran Ferry Action Group are greatly disappointed to learn that the proposed charter of the MV Pentalina has collapsed.
Arran had looked set to benefit significantly from the proposed charter of the catamaran ferry after successful berthing trials at Brodick and Ardrossan earlier this month. The provisional plan was for Caledonian MacBrayne to deploy the vessel to add additional capacity to the Arran route in the busy summer season, and then to act as the relief vessel for Mull in the winter.
As residents and visitors well know, the main Arran ferry service is particularly congested in summer. The proposed 2-year charter of the MV Pentalina would have added much-needed additional capacity, resilience and flexibility to the network until the first of the much-delayed new vessels enters service in late 2022.
While the MV Pentalina does have some significant operational compromises - primarily her lack of bow ramps, meaning that large vehicles have to reverse on with a consequent increase in turnaround times - in the circumstances of an aging and overstretched fleet that is becoming increasingly unreliable, the Arran Ferry Action Group enthusiastically welcomed Scottish Government's decision to pursue a charter for her.
We urge the relevant parties from Transport Scotland, Caledonian MacBrayne and Pentland Ferries, to redouble efforts to find a practical solution that will allow the vessel to be put into service as soon as possible.
The current state of our lifeline ferry service shows it is not fit for purpose in terms of reliability, resilience and infrastructure. The Arran Ferry Action Group is a new and fully representative lobbying group, set up to represent Arran interests in demanding service improvements and accountability in future investment decisions.