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Hebrides News


Cal Mac is belatedly being asked to schedule an earlier sailing of Barra to Eriskay ferry so islanders can catch the changed timings for the first plane from Balivanich to Stornoway.


The comhairle axed the Barra inter-island flights in 2013 so islanders must travel by ferry and road to connect with the Benbecula air link.


However, without any consultation, the council agreed a new Benbecula plane timetable which disadvantages the Barra community.


Now it has asked Cal Mac to put on an earlier ferry to mitigate their controversial transport decision.


The problem is Cal Mac has already arranged and published its summer timetables with the MV Loch Alainn’s first run leaving at 7am.


In any case, her crew work a 12-hour day so it is unclear how an earlier start would impact on the company’s working hours directive obligations. The rest of the ferry timetable would be affected.


The council itself would have to ensure the first bus from Castlebay departs around 4am to allow foot passengers to check-in at Balivanich airport in time.


Rejigging bus timetables on Barra, South Uist and Eriskay could be another knock-on effect.


The council revealed to MSP Rhoda Grant it is in touch will Cal Mac about an earlier ferry.


Mrs Grant said: “I wrote to the comhairle to see if they had approached CalMac to see if an earlier sailing could be put on from Barra and am pleased to be advised that they have contacted Cal Mac about this.


“They have been advised by Loganair that there are very few Barra customers who use the Benbecula-Stornoway air service, after taking into account the relative population figures, but nonetheless, they have asked if it is possible to have an earlier departure from Barra to Eriskay to allow those who do wish to use the flights the opportunity to do so.”

Request for Sound of Barra ferry to integrate with changed plane timetable

18 March 2017

The council wants the ferry to sail earlier