One of the big questions being asked throughout the Western Isles just now is…is Covid-19 and its restrictions actually saving us from a totally overwhelming transport crisis?
Suppose the service outages affecting Castlebay, Lochboisdale, Tarbert and now Stornoway throughout the past few weeks, were taking place at a time of normal demand from visitors and islanders alike?
Imagine, the cancellations, queues, compensation demands and disruption complaints…
Reacting to protests from hauliers and supermarkets, the MV Isle of Lewis is now going to revive the Stornoway-Ullapool freight ferry service.
On CalMac Service Staus, this morning (Saturday 17th April) it states that "an additional freight service will operate" today as follows:
Depart Stornoway 2300
Arrive Ullapool 0145
Depart Ullapool 0330
Arrive Stornoway 0615
The normal night freight service will be reinstated from tomorrow (Sunday 18th) into the morning of Wednesday 21st April.
As MV Isle of Lewis is currently operating this service the passage time will be 15 minutes longer.
Depart Stornoway 2230
Arrive Ullapool 0115
Depart Ullapool 0300
Arrive Stornoway 0545
CalMac Ferries say that "Work is ongoing to continue this timetable beyond Wednesday 21st April and this will be confirmed as soon as possible."
The crisis has arisen due to a major failure of the port engine with MV Loch Seaforth. The vessel requires substantial repairs and she has been removed from service. It is expected that the vessel will be out of service until at least the end of April to allow the engine issue to be thoroughly investigated and repaired.
The removal of the MV Isle of Lewis to Stornoway-Ullapool means that from Thursday 15th April to 25th April the Mallaig – Lochboisdale service will operate an amended timetable. MV Lord of the Isles will operate a combined Lochboisdale and Castlebay service as follows:
Castlebay-Oban services on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays will operate to normal timetable.