New investment for Wemyss Bay harbour
The ferry operator, Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac), has issued details of their plans to manage any disruption ahead of the publishing of the tender for the works by Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), the port owners and organisation responsible for its upkeep.
Passengers are being advised that the essential repairs - scheduled to begin in February 2015 - will mean the temporary diversion of the Rothesay-Wemyss Bay route to Gourock. All travellers on the route will be offered a 15% discount on Winter 2014/15 fares to compensate for any inconvenience caused. These fares will be maintained for the duration of the works. Full details of the fares that will apply will be made available by 1 December 2014.
Martin Dorchester, Managing Director of CalMac said: "We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the closure, however this is an important and essential investment in the historic pier which will prolong its life for many years and improve reliability of the service in the future. CMAL have advised us that work cannot be put off any longer without the risk of a major failure which would render it unusable for an even longer period."
The Rothesay - Wemyss Bay service will maintain a two vessel operation and will see sailing times increase from 35 minutes to one hour. This will result in 10 return vehicle and passenger sailings taking place Mondays to Thursdays, 11 on Fridays and 9 on Saturdays and Sundays. CalMac are engaging with providers of connecting services both on the mainland and the island to ensure that integration with other modes is maintained. View proposed timetable
Mr Dorchester said: "We quickly reached the conclusion that a total closure of Wemyss Bay over a reduced period of time was the best option and presented the least inconvenience for customers. The logistics of managing the use of Gourock by up to six different vessels presents a real challenge and we have spent a lot of time considering how best to minimise inconvenience to ferry travellers affected by these works. We will be moving the ticketing operation and all Wemyss Bay staff to Gourock for the duration of these works to ensure that our customers are looked after by familiar faces. This will also ensure that any inconvenience caused by these unavoidable changes is kept to a minimum"
Mr Dorchester went on to say: "The Colintraive - Rhubodach service will be unaffected by the diversion. We have also been able to ensure that the Argyll Ferries' service between Gourock and Dunoon will be unaffected, although some sailings may not be suitable for people with limited mobility. Affected sailings will be clearly marked on the published timetable however customers may wish to seek guidance from our Assistance Team for further information"
In addition to the works at Wemyss Bay, CMAL is planning to replace the 'Kilcreggan steps' at Gourock with a new set of steps close to the main linkspan. They have agreed not to start the Wemyss Bay work until these new steps are in place which will help maintain all services as much as possible. The Kilcreggan timetable will be unaffected.
The contract for the works is due to be awarded towards the end of October at which point CMAL will have more information about the works and timescales involved. CalMac will issue further information early November regarding the likely impact on service. In the meantime, full details of the proposed timetable and other relevant information for ferry travellers will be published on CalMac's website and information for customers updated on a regular basis.
Proposed timetable to apply during period of Wemyss Bay Harbour improvements
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