Customer Update: Winter Timetables September 2022
Customer Update - Winter Timetable FAQs
This year, we have published our Winter timetables in a phased approach. The following table outlines the detail for bookable routes. (Please note: all non-bookables available to view online). We've also added some supporting FAQs to detail the rationale behind this approach.
Oban - Craignure and Fionnphort-Iona
Discussions regarding the winter timetable have now concluded and we are pleased to confirm that the winter timetable for Oban - Craignure and Fionnphort - Iona are now available to view on our website and bookings are open for Oban - Craignure. We thank customers for their patience during this process.
26 September 2022
28 September 2022
Open for reservation
4 October 2022
13 October 2022
Ardrossan - Brodick
Ullapool - Stornoway (Ro-Pax and Freight)
Berneray - Leverburgh
Barra - Eriskay
Oban - Lismore
Kennacraig - Islay
Oban - Colonsay
Uig - Tarbert/Lochmaddy
Oban - Castlebay
Oban - Coll / Tiree
Mallaig - Small Isles
Mallaig - Lochboisdale - Oban
The Q&As below detail the rationale and reasons behind the phased publication of the winter timetable as well as some route specific details.
When will winter timetables be published and open for bookings?
The winter timetables have been delayed this year due to the ongoing discussions around support arrangements for the Uig closure. These discussions have now concluded and all timetables are now available to view online. Phase one opened for bookings on Tuesday 4 October and phase two on Thursday 13 October. We've shared full details of the phasing in the table above.
Why has the winter timetable publication been delayed?
The revised plan for the closure of Uig, which is resulting in two different timetables being entered, coupled with a high volume of service changes in this year's , has brought an unprecedented level of complexity which has lengthened the process. This is on top of the usual interdependencies between routes and connecting services, coupled with tidal restrictions in some areas, which all need to be manually entered.
For this reason, we have published the timetables on a phased basis so that timetables are available for customers to view and book as soon as they are available.
Why are there some routes without service or reduced services?
With the scale of investment required to ensure our vessels are resilient for the year ahead, the vessels will need 647 days in dock to complete the scheduled programme of work - up from 616 days last year. This allows a realistic and achievable schedule that will reduce the risk of unscheduled overruns. However, this means that there will be periods of reduced or no service on some routes. This has been reduced as much as possible by offering shared services across some routes, however, our fleet is stretched to its limits.
Can the yards work 24/7 to get the work done quicker?
We have asked yards to work 24/7 to reduce the time that the vessels are out of service. Unfortunately, they have advised this will not always be possible due to difficulties in securing the resources needed on a consistent basis. The overhaul dates put in place are the quickest that can be delivered by the yards.
Will additional sailings be provided on Kennacraig-Islay when MV Hebridean Isles and MV Isle of Arran are operating to combat deadweight issues and allow commercial vehicle capacity?
Yes, MV Isle of Arran will conduct additional sailings to mitigate any issues around deadweight and capacity constraints. A total of five additional return sailings will be introduced in the timetable across the week.
Why is MV Finlaggan covering MV Hebrides dry dock instead of MV Clansman?
Due to unprecedented levels of weather disruption, which at times saw a 42% cancellation rate on Coll and Tiree when serviced by MV Lord of the Isles this year, a decision has been made to retain MV Clansman on Coll and Tiree throughout the full winter season to minimise the risk of disruption. This is with the exception of MV Clansman's overhaul when the Coll and Tiree service will be supported for a short time by MV Lord of the Isles, followed by MV Hebrides.
What changes are being made to the Oban-Craignure service as a result of Loch Frisa?
MV Loch Frisa will be deployed as the secondary vessel on Oban - Craignure to provide a commutable service between Isle of Mull and the mainland, providing an equivalent or enhanced level of service for the majority of the year.
There will be periods where MVs Isle of Arran (pre-Christmas) and Isle of Mull (post-Christmas), will be used to provide relief elsewhere in the network. On these occasions MV Loch Frisa will operate as a single vessel with additional sailings put in place if demand requires them.
Why is MV Isle of Arran only available on Oban-Craignure up until Christmas?
Post-Christmas, MV Isle of Arran is required to provide overhaul relief across the network and will therefore not be available on the Mull service. MV Loch Frisa will continue to operate a single vessel service during this time.
Why are there no services to Colonsay on Mondays on certain dates?
The overhaul plan and vessel deployment has resulted in MV Loch Frisa operating single vessel on Oban-Craignure during this period. MV Loch Frisa is unable to operate to Colonsay and there is no alternative vessel available.
Why is there no service on Lochboisdale-Mallaig route for a period?
This year we are securing more time in dock which will reduce the level and risk of unplanned disruptions that affect our communities. In order to avoid the overhaul plan impacting on the summer timetable, we have had to deliver more work within the normal winter period, unfortunately resulting in more overlap on individual vessel overhauls.
Although we have been able to mitigate the impact of this in most instances by putting in place shared services across routes, there is one 3-day period where we will be unable to operate a service to Mallaig-Lochboisdale.
Will MV Arrow operate a freight service on Stornoway-Ullapool again?
MV Arrow is only available 2 January - 24 April 2023. The chartering of the vessel is still under consideration by Transport Scotland and Ministers.
Will you charter MV Pentalina to provide support?
MV Pentalina is still under consideration by Transport Scotland and Ministers. However, it would still require a lead time of 6 months minimum to prepare the vessel for service, recruit the necessary crew, obtain the relevant certification, conduct necessary works in dock, and train and familiarise the crew. This means it would be end March at the earliest before it would be ready for service.