Ferries Plan Contract Variations and Timetable Changes: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/17/02817
Date received: 21 November 2017
Date responded: 20 December 2017

Information requested

In relation to the above and in particular the following question and answer:

"The detailed explanation and the associated financial impact thereof which therefore illustrates the increase in subsidy level from £868m to £975m?

The original Bid Subsidy for the Contract was £868m. The increase to £975m includes the following approved contract variations: Summer 2016 & Winter 2016/17 Timetables £68.4m."

I have spent the last couple of days comparing the summer 2015 and winter 2015/16 timetables to the summer 2016 and winter 2016/17 timetables and finding it very difficult to identify changes that would explain an overall cost of £68.4m or an annual increase of £8.55m over the contract period. Could you now please provide, under FOI legislation, a breakdown of the timetable changes by route and cost? Comparing summer 2015 and winter 2015/16 to summer 2016 and winter 2016/17 timetables, identify changes explaining overall cost of £68.4m or an annual increase of £8.55m over contract period. Provide a breakdown of the timetable changes by route and cost.


Contract Variations Relating to Timetable Changes.


The Initial Timetables 'as bid' were for winter 2014/15 and summer 2015. Given the spring 2015 entry in to service of MV Loch Seaforth, MV Isle of Lewis (IoL) was surplus to requirements and was assumed to be largely laid-up on a year-round basis in the bid. The Interim Timetables for summer 2016, winter 2016/17 and summer 2017 (which cover Year 1 of CHFS2) require IoL to be fully deployed on services between Oban and Castlebay. As IoL is too large for Lochboisdale, and with the Ferries Plan desire for a connection between Lochboisdale and Mallaig to be permanent, MV Lord of the Isles (LOTI) has been re-deployed to a year-round Mallaig/Oban-Lochboisdale service. To meet the Ferries Plan requirement for a second vessel on the Oban-Craignure service from summer 2016, MV Coruisk has been re-deployed from Mallaig-Armadale to Oban-Craignure. The backfill for the Mallaig-Armadale summer service has seen the redeployment of MV Lochinvar and the utilisation of LOTI on 3 round trips per day in between Lochboisdale sailings. The MV Loch Bhrusda which was due to be laid-up (in the bid) for the summer was also deployed and the MV Isle of Cumbrae was brought out of lay-up to cover the gap left by MV Lochinvar in the summer. Some re-adjustment of Oban based services to Colonsay and Coll/Tiree (and also onto Castlebay) was required. The rebase of the timetable has also had a corresponding increase in Port staffing due to the increase in both the number of sailings and/or an extension to the length of the operating day.

Kennacraig to Islay service enhanced peak timetable


Additional sailings were added to the Kennacraig-Islay route in summer 2016, the variation provides for an additional sailing by each vessel (MV Finlaggan and MV Hebridean Isles) on a Thursday and a Friday night with and additional round trip by MV Hebridean Isles added on 11 peak Sunday afternoons.

Ardrossan to Brodick amended timetable on winter Saturdays and Sundays


This impacts the provision of winter services only. In 2014/15 the vessel serving the route berthed in Ardrossan overnight. Following a request from the community, from winter 2016/17, it now berths in Brodick on a Saturday night. The effect of this is to give an earlier sailing from the island on a Sunday – and the Saturday night 1920 service from the island.

Colintraive to Rhubodach amended year-round timetable


The number of weekly sailings on the route has decreased from 238 to 218.

Largs to Cumbrae Slip Sunday timetable (year-round)


An earlier start on a Sunday has been added to the year-round timetable giving one additional round trip per week on the route.

Fionnphort to Iona winter Sunday timetable


Additional sailings have been added to the 2014/15 'as bid' winter timetable, a request sailing at 0845 each Sunday has now been added to the timetable for winter 2016/17.

Kennacraig to Islay service amended winter timetable for one or two vessel service


The 'as bid' timetable of winter 2014/15 had a 2 vessel service for the entire 23 weeks of the timetable – including during vessel relief periods.

The timetable for 2016/17 reverts to a single vessel service for 11 weeks to facilitate the release of the MV Hebridean Isles and/or MV Isle of Arran to provide relief on other services. During these periods of the single vessel service the route is covered by MV Finlaggan with her sailings increased from 26 to 40 per week. 1 round trip per week between Port Askaig and Colonsay is also provided during this period.

You also requested, a detailed breakdown of the costs associated with the timetable changes, and while our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide a breakdown of these costs. This is because exemption under Section 33(1) (b), commercial interests of FOISA applies.

The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

Exemptions apply, subject to the public interest test.

Section 33(1) (b) – commercial interests

An exemption under section 33(1) (b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to the BusinessCase information provided by CalMac Ferries Ltd in support of contract variations. This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to; prejudice substantially the commercial interests of CalMac Ferries Ltd.

Public interest test

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of CalMac Ferries Ltd.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses


Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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