Draft winter timetables! [updated]

[Update 09/09/22]

It has become clear that the Loch Frisa single vessel timetable will need to be significantly re-worked, in order to maintain lifeline connections for Iona. As currently proposed, Iona residents have very limited ability to visit Oban, have useful time there, and to return the same day. For the many Iona residents concerned about connections, be assured that we are stressing to CalMac that your core connections must be maintained.

Its been a long wait, but just seven weeks before they are introduced, we have now been given drafts of our new winter timetable for Craignure-Oban. Or we should say timetables – because there are several of them.

The delay in producing the timetables has predominantly been a result of efforts to overcome the planned closure of Uig for much of the winter. During our meeting with Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth last month, she was candid in saying that the delay was due to her refusing to sign off on the timetables until Transport Scotland found a less disruptive solution than the planned 24 weeks closure. That issue appears to now be resolved.

This is also of course our first winter with a two vessel service. The timetable is much busier than previous years, with many more sailing options. But it has to be said that the picture is not all entirely positive, with some retrograde steps and complexities that are the result of berthing clashes, over-haul schedules, slower steaming and longer turn-around times.

Over-all the picture is positive however, with some significant service improvements thanks to the introduction of the Loch Frisa.

We have a very short window to get your feedback

Winter timetables for other islands will be published in the next few days, but there will be a short delay to enable Mull and Iona to respond to these drafts. But we have a very short time to do this. We need to respond to CalMac with all our comments early next week, so in turn we need to ask that if you have any comments or requests regarding these drafts you please email them to us, or comment at the bottom of the post no later than 12 Noon on Sunday 11th September.

The Proposals

There are three separate timetables that will operate at different times of the winter depending on vessel availability. Of the 23 weeks of winter service, we will have a two-vessel service for just over half the time, or around 13 weeks. There will be approximately seven weeks when the Loch Frisa operates on her own, and 2.5 weeks when the Isle of Mull is our only ferry.

During those periods when we have two vessels in service, whichever vessel is paired up with the Loch Frisa (either Isle of Mull or Isle of Arran) may be called away to assist with breakdown cover. In these circumstances, the Loch Frisa will revert to operating on her own, and has the ability to put on extra runs if required.

The timetables

Below is the two-vessel timetable that will operate on the yellow dates above. Beside it is the 2019/20 winter timetable for comparison (the last ‘normal’ winter before schedules were adjusted due to Covid). We have noted some specific problems that will need to be fixed, mostly concerning train connection times.

Following that is the Single Vessel Loch Frisa timetable, and then the single vessel timetable operated by the MV Isle of Mull in March. We’ve also summarised the key pros and cons as we see them. Feel free to comment on both the timetables and our summary – we want to know what you think.

Iona Timetables

The Craignure-Oban timetable and the Iona-Fionnphort timetable have to be co-ordinated to ensure connections. When the Craignure-Oban timetable changes, the Iona timetable will have to change with it. Below are the corresponding Iona timetables.



19 thoughts on “Draft winter timetables! [updated]

  1. Time tables.
    Well yes they are, but I feel for many of the “connections” to Glasgow a monkey with a typewriter could have randomly done better.

    The bus service to Glasgow may be a better and occasionally more reliable connection than the train for some journeys. Perhaps bus connections could also be included.

    I’m glad the ferry committee is there to give feedback.

  2. I entirely agree with your comments about the rail connections. Fifteen minutes is the absolute minimum required. Improved liaison with the railway authorities (also nationalised) wouldn’t hurt.
    I notice that the turn-around times at Craignure are around 25 minutes, whereas pre-Covid it was as little as fourteen. Shortening the turn-around would improve the train connection timings.

  3. Thank you for all your good work. I wonder how these changes will match-up with the bus service to and from The Ross – if island residents can board it, particularly after Fionnphort going to Craignure?

  4. I would be interested to hear how the buses from the Ross will connect up with the timetables, seems very complicated to have so many different ones. The ferry on the Friday for the children coming back from school to the Ross is much earlier than previous years, meaning they will miss even more of school, unless they wait to get the later one which probably does not have a bus connection. Varying timetables for Iona will also lead to confusion for those like me commenting there to work.

  5. I commented earlier about the boat departing earlier on a Friday. Illustrates well how utterly confusing it will be with 3 different timetables as I misread it. My comments about bus connections for the Ross still stands😀

  6. John & Carla Lamont
    Agreed that the much needed connections with other public transport are not viable with thie timetable.Many residents use public transport and the connection times are just doable on current timetable. We need these connections to Glasgow for important hospital appointments and onward travel. Not workable. Perhaps turnaround times could be improved. Either the train times or Oban arrival times will have to be altered to provide this lifeline service.

  7. Like many have reservations about connections, not only from Fionnphort to Craignure via bus, but onwards with train and bus connections to Glasgow.

  8. Had to run to catch the 18.11 train last Friday on a day trip from the central belt (which was nearly an overnight). No catering on the train; machine on Loch Frisa not functioning; both coffee shops at Craignure closed.

  9. Iona: Why is there no 8.45 on Monday’s. I need to start work at 9.20 so I’d either arrive far too early or far too late!!!!! Weekend ferries to Oban are of interest to me as they are the only times I have free. Concerned about connections with bus leaving Fionnphort to meet up (and return) to Craignure & Oban. It also seems that match up with the trains has not really been taken into concideration. What’s so difficult? the needs of people on Mull & Iona re travel have not changed so why can Calmac not get it right?

  10. The Loch Frisa being on for 2 weeks in nov and 5 weeks in Jan/Feb is not adequate for the schoolchildren provision.Many kids eat on the ferry .So with no catering provision ,the kids that eat on the ferry will have no breakfast before going to school Not good enough.This is 2022 not 1822 when kids went to school hungry .

  11. I dont know whether anyone has picked up on the 7 weeks proposed Loch Frisa onlyi service .A lot of school children from the Ross of Mull actually get their breakfast on the ferry .So we are left with a ferry that provides no catering for our children to get hot food before they go to school .I thought this was 2022 not 1822 when we sent our kids to school hungry. Not good enough for the childrens welfare

  12. The Single Vessel timetable is hopeless for Iona residents using public transport. The bus arrives in Craignure at 10 40. Frisa leaves at 10.30. Even if we could catch that ferry, time would be very limited in Oban.
    Homecoming would mean catching the 14.30 ferry, with a wait of two and a half hours in Craignure for the bus to Fionnphort, assuming the bus timetable is the same.
    None of the times link up with anything…….

  13. It’s becoming clear from the comments that (a) The Loch Frisa is a disaster and (b) the bus timetable from the Ross needs to change to reflect ferry timings (or vice versa). It’s all going to make for a messy and confusing winter on the buses and ferry.

  14. Brian and Lorraine Jones 9th September 2022 — 12:04 pm

    One further problem to the other ones here is that when the two ferry and IOM only option is in force there is no ferry back from Oban at 2 o’clock (except Monday). his means that any trip to Oban (appointment shopping etc) would have to be an all day affair with a FOUR HOUR gap. A survey a couple of years ago emphatically rejected this as an option when presented as a way to provide early/late ferries.

  15. Loch Frisa is not big or fast enough to handle the Oban Craignure service on her own, especially during the winter months.
    Lets go back to the drawing board or better still keep the winter service same as in previous years.
    Apart from bad weather events the Isle of Mull or Isle of Arran coped well and fitted in with bus and train services at both ends. The whole proposal is a disaster.
    Talk about “Be carefull what you wish for”

  16. There definitely needs to be more joined up thinking here. Have West Coast Motors been consulted as it would surely be easier for them to adjust to the ferry timetables so that we can make use of public transport, especially in view of the current high fuel costs.

  17. I know there has been an update but as a Iona resident I think it’s important to highlight how impractical this timetable is for anyone who doesn’t drive on Iona. On the times where there is only one boat or disruption on the network It would be impossible to travel to Oban or even Tobermory in a day if the 16.00 and 18.10 boats don’t run. This would mean staying over in Oban just to pick up essentials nevermind traveling anywhere else. And given the cost of living crisis locals should not be forced to spend more simply to leave the island.

    There must be a complete rethink for this service to be useful for anybody.

  18. Loss of rail connections at Oban would be a major disappointment in trying to encourage use of integrated public transport, and should wherever possible be avoided

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