-> 2011 -> Islay, Jura and the Draft Ferries Plan

Diciadain, 21/Dec/2011

Islay, Jura and the Draft Ferries Plan

Islay News in stencil

Back in November I wrote about the news that Islay would join the RET in October 2012. Following on from that announcement the Scottish Government has now produced a Scottish ferries draft plan asking communities for comments. The press release mentions a potential impact for Islay, Jura and Colonsay:

Offer nil fares for Jura residents travelling to Islay when that is part of an ongoing journey to the mainland. More sailings to Islay to call in at Port Askaig to improve onward travel connections to Jura.

Offer an additional sailing day in the summer for Colonsay, offer at least one day per week when it is possible to do a return sailing to the mainland, and a commitment in the longer-term to work towards more sailings during the winter

Much more detail can be found in the Scottish Ferries Review - Draft ferries plan for consultation (PDF document). Islay and Jura are covered on pages 34 and 35 in points 116-126.

The section starts with stating that they believe Islay receives a very good service:

The needs based assessment for the service from Islay suggested that the current service profile exceeds that for a model service. The mainland services have recently benefited from significant investment with the new vessel, the MV Finlaggan, entering service on the summer of 2011. The facilities at Port Askaig, Port Ellen and Kennacraig have also benefited from an ongoing investment programme.

It then continues with what I believe two core proposals:

Assuming I read it correctly the review suggests not to support the Craighouse-Tayvallich ferry as they believe it not to be cost effective. Instead they suggest to treat Islay and Jura as one and make the crossing between Islay and Jura free for Jura residents, provided the crossing is part of a journey to the mainland (i.e. visits to Islay only would still have to be paid). I'm not sure Jura residents will agree with this, keeping in mind the time savings the fast RIB to Tayvallich provides.

The second part won't go down well in Port Ellen I suspect, namely shifting more of the crossings from Port Ellen to Port Askaig (or in other words, keep them in Port Askaig once Port Ellen reopens). They promise that enough services will still be run through Port Ellen to make it a viable port, in particular in combination with the grain boats.

The review states that the community is asked for their views on the proposals, I'm not sure how that's going to work practically. In any case I suspect there will be some strong opinions on both Islay and Jura…

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