Calmac has announced that winter timetables for 23 October until 28 March 2024 will be available to view online from today (Wednesday 13 September).
Timetables will be made available for booking in a phased approach from later this month.
This coming winter will see a number of challenges across the ferry network, with multiple vessels covering single routes over the winter period, the ferry is saying as precursors to months of mounting delays and missing links.
This is one of the most complex timetables CalMac has ever had to produce, because of the extended absence of MV Hebridean Isles, coupled with an extended dry dock period and the closures of the ports at Uig and Port Ellen by their respective port authorities.
But CalMac pledges: "This year we will spend record sums on maintenance of the vessels in a determined effort to reduce the risk of technical failures during the rest of the year."
The timetables take into account vessel availability during CalMac’s annual overhaul schedule, which involves all 35 vessels being removed from service over winter for a set period for planned maintenance.The timetables have also been planned without MV Hebridean Isles, normally the backbone of the relief programme during the dry dock process, as ongoing investigations into the vessel continue.The timetables are open for bookings and purchasing on the following dates:
Phase one (Thursday 28 September)
- Stornoway-Ullapool (except for 21 October – 1 November 2023, which will be confirmed by 30 September)
- Oban-Colonsay-Port Askaig-Kennacraig
Phase two (Monday 2 October)
Phase three (Thursday 5 October)
- Mallaig-Small Isles
- Wemyss Bay-Rothesay
As a result of consultation with communities, timetables for Oban-Craignure and Dunoon-Gourock have been adjusted to provide better commuter connections.
Pauline Blackshaw, Director of Strategy and Change for CalMac, said: “We are pleased to launch the winter timetable but are sorry that this has been done later than in previous years. With an incredibly complex timetabling environment, we are committed to finding every opportunity available to keep services running for all communities during vessel downtime.
“The publication of the winter timetable has been impacted by the delays with preceding timetables and the delayed confirmation of this year’s overhaul plan. These plans required to be revised as a result of the ongoing investigations and uncertainty associated with MV Hebridean Isles.
“Launching our timetables on a phased basis allows us to share information with our customers to allow them to begin planning and allows us to open bookings as quickly as possible.
“Please check customer updates for further information about the timetables and the phased booking plan on our website https://www.calmac.co.uk/customer-updates/winter-2023-2024-timetable-release.”