Highland Council – which is led by a joint administration of the SNP Group and the Highland Independent Group – has announced further delays to the return of MV Corran which, which provides a vital service connecting Lochaber to the Ardnamurchan peninsula.
In June the council had expected the vessel to be back in service in the middle of August.
Now it says that the works on 22-year-old MV Corran, which has had a series of technical issues is now not expected till mid-October.
Without the service, drivers are faced with diversions of up to 86 miles or making use of a temporary foot passenger-only service between Corran and Ardgour.
The Corran service is the busiest single-vessel ferry route in Scotland, carrying more than 270,000 cars each year, but the return of MV Corran has been delayed since last October and it remains out of action with further delays revealed over its return.
The older relief vessel, the MV Maid of Glencoul was put out of action again in mid-August and remains sidelined. It has been broken down for 92 days so far this year.
MV Corran works
Highland Council had first expected a return for MV Corran in early April 2023 in June it was expected back in mid-August and now the date has been put back even further to mid October.
Dr Michael Foxley, the former leader of Highland Council and vice chairman of Ardgour Community Council said: “There is a combination of fury and complete despair now.
“It has been AWOL now for almost a year and delayed a further six weeks.
“A resilience fund needs to be established for struggling businesses.
“These problems will continue for years and a new diesel ferry needs to be ordered now.
“This is an emergency and Highland Council needs to make action for our communities their top priority.”
Concerns first surfaced about MV Corran when it was removed from service at the end of October, last year.
In February, the council said a refit had taken longer than expected largely due to extensive rebuilding of her 23-year-old ramps.
The latest council update said: The MV Corran dry dock repair work is progressing at pace with the welding and plating crew continuing to work 24/7. This section of work is programmed to be completed by the 24 September, when phase two of the repair works can commence including painting, electrical work and the fitting of the propellor unit by Wärtsilä and Voith at the Ardmaleish boatyard on the Isle of Bute.”
A separate explainer said delay causes included fixing the “23-year-old ramps and “cycloidal propulsion unit”, recasting the crown-wheel-gear, “supply chain challenges”, and then “capacity constraints at the boat yard”.
“Coolers, fans and valves have been overhauled,” the update said. “Extensive welding and plating work continues with the welding team working 24/7. Target date for welding/plating completion currently w/e 24 Sept.
“Due to health and safety, all other works on the vessel itself will commence once the welding/plating work is complete. Painting and electrical scheduled to commence 25 Sept.
Economy and infrastructure committee chairman Ken Gowans said: “MV Corran is now going into her third week of dry dock repairs and with crews working 24/7 in three shift rotations, we are pleased that progress is continuing at pace.
“I would like to assure the communities and businesses affected by the disruption to the vehicle carrying service across the Corran Narrows, that the daily foot passenger boats from Corran and Fort William to Ardgour and the shuttle bus service will continue to operate free of charge until the MV Corran returns to service in mid-October.”
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