The Ferry Committee have been campaigning for an ‘Island Focused’ service since 2010. Essentially this means a service that puts the travel needs of island residents first, by basing the ferry on the island rather than the mainland. By making the first sailing an island departure and the last sailing an island return, we get a longer useful day on the mainland.
When RET was introduced on Mull services in 2015, a second ferry was needed in the summer to meet the increased demand. A side effect of this was that we got our island-focused service for 7 months of the year, with the MV Coruisk being based in Craignure.
In the winter however we return to a single-boat service, with the MV Isle of Mull working out of Oban. Our campaign has continued therefore, by asking that the Isle of Mull over-nights in Craignure during the winter. Caledonian MacBrayne are supportive of our requests, but it is not possible without improvements to Craignure Pier, which is owned by Argyll and Bute Council. For more on the pier see here.
As part of our work we have created a draft winter timetable which you can see below. We consulted as broadly as possible on it, and took great effort that critical connections were maintained, as well as enabling some great new options:
- Full working day on the mainland every day except Sunday
- Meet the 9am train departing from Oban six days per week
- Arrive at your mainland destination two hours earlier than currently
- 6pm departure from Oban every weekday, rather than 4pm as currently
This service could make huge improvements to life on Mull, giving more flexibility to journeys off-island for work, easier appointments, cheaper school trips, more usable time away, less over-night accommodation…. and lots more.
We will keep pushing at every opportunity to achieve an island-focused service. We will keep you posted……
<<<< UPDATE 25/07/2020>>>>
Our most recent request to achieve the Island Focused Timetable – by adding additional sailings to the beginning and end of each sailing day, yet still basing the ferry in Oban – has today been declined by Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse on cost grounds.
We had found significant savings – for example Argyll and Bute Council had agreed to make the additional pier charges cost-neutral – but still, the additional sailings needed ran into hundreds of thousands of pounds, due to the extra crewing required on a ferry that is already running to the maximum of permitted work hours.
This is not the end of the story however – but it seems more likely that we will achieve improvement only if either Craignure Pier is upgraded; or the MV Isle of Mull is replaced by a ferry that is short enough to berth safely.
Read the letter from Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands below: