Monday, March 7, 2016

After War of Words Vital Freight and Passenger Ferry Bid Lodged with Transport Scotland

Decision Awaited That Will Have a Profound Effect on Islanders
Shipping News Feature
UK – After a sometimes vitriolic war of words between incumbent ferry operator CalMac and rival bidder Serco, today saw CalMac’s tender for continuation of its Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services presented to Transport Scotland. The £1 billion contract discussions have engaged many local residents of the offshore islands which rely totally on the lifeline passenger and freight services provided.

CalMac is synonymous with ferry services on the west coast of Scotland and is the current operator of the routes under a contract with Scottish Ministers. That contract expires in September and the Scottish Government’s transport agency, Transport Scotland, has been running a competitive process to select a provider of the services from 1 October 2016, for a period of up to eight years.

Now the pressure ramps up as lobbyists for both sides try to impress why they should be chosen to undertake the important schedule. Many islanders and the trades unions involved have stated they are in no doubt that changing the operator would result in a poorer service saying that Serco’s motives and previous history counts against it.

One person who expressed confidence that the decision will be in CalMac’s favour is its Managing Director, Martin Dorchester, who presented the bid. He commented:

“I believe the bid we submitted is an outstanding piece of work and makes a compelling case for CalMac to win this hugely important contract. I’m confident we will be the clear winner when a decision is reached in May and, if so, I’m determined that we’ll deliver our best service levels yet.

“We’re very proud of CalMac’s rich heritage, but I’m even prouder of the internationally-recognised, customer-focused, ambitious, multi-award winning company we’ve become. Across the network our staff and crews work tirelessly to provide an efficient, reliable, and modern service to the individuals and communities who depend upon us every day.

“CalMac will always put the lifeline ferry services and the needs of the remote communities we serve above any commercial concerns. Operating on the west coast is our principal reason to exist. Nobody knows these routes better than us and providing 130,000 sailings a year in some of the most challenging waters in Europe is impressive by any standards. I believe that our vast knowledge and experience of these routes makes CalMac the best qualified and the only credible operator of them now and in the future.”