Repair bill

Soaring ferry maintenance costs ‘reveal neglect’

Glen Sannox entering dry dock
The Glen Sannox has begun sea trials

Ferry operator CalMac spent an additional £800,000 on unplanned maintenance during last year, topping the highest annual figure on record, it has emerged.

CalMac spent £3.85m between April and November, compared with £3.05m for the whole of 2022-23.

It represented a rise of more than £550,000 on the previous record high (2021-22) and a doubling of the 2020-21 total.

These figures are in addition to the much higher annual cost of planned maintenance, say the Scottish Conservatives who obtained the figures via a Freedom of Information request.

The party said the need for additional spending showed the SNP Government’s “rampant neglect” of Scotland’s ferry fleet.

Conservatives transport spokesman Graham Simpson said that as cancellations and costs have spiralled islanders face “needless misery” from “unreliable and frequently disrupted services”, while mismanagement of ferries has cost the Scottish taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds.

“This huge increase in unplanned maintenance costs is the inevitable consequence of the SNP government’s rampant neglect of islanders, and the lifeline ferries on which they rely.

“Much of CalMac’s fleet is at or beyond the end of its natural life, and is therefore prone to break down.

“This unplanned maintenance is not only taking money away from CalMac’s other priorities and imposing costs on the Scottish taxpayer – it means that islanders have to suffer unreliable and frequently disrupted services.

Graham Simpson
Graham Simpson: colossal scandal

“The SNP-Green government’s mismanagement of ferries – in procurement, replacement, funding and maintenance – is a colossal scandal.

“It has cost hundreds of millions of pounds, inflicted huge damage on island economies, crippled tourism, and caused needless misery for some of our most vulnerable and neglected communities.”

The new data emerged as the Glen Sannox, one of two delayed and over-budget ferries being built at Ferguson Marine, left its shipyard berth to begin sea trials. The ferry, which will serve the Arran route, left the Port Glasgow yard on Tuesday, for a nearby dry dock.

Ferguson Marine confirmed it left the berth under its own power before carrying out propulsion and manoeuvring tests.

The build costs for Glen Sannox and its sister ship Glen Rosa have more than tripled to at least £360 million and they are expected to be delivered about six years late.

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