New contract for Clyde and Hebridean services

Speculation is mounting as to who will win the competitive tender to run Clyde and Hebridean ferry services.

An announcement is due on May 31. The proposed start-date for the CHFS2 public service contract follows just four months later, on October 1.

Two organisations have submitted bids — CalMac, the present provider (100 per cent owned by the Scottish government), and Serco, a stock exchange-listed international service company, which previously ousted CalMac from the Northern Isles services. There is speculation that, if CalMac are to retain the contract, the result will be leaked just before the May 5 Scottish elections. If there is no news by then, Serco is the likely winner.

In his lunchtime presentation during CRSC’s January excursion to Rothesay, CalMac managing director Martin Dorchester (pictured below) said the unexpectedly long bidding process had been tough, distracting CalMac Ferries Ltd from its task of running a service.

Martin Dorchester talking to CRSC in January