Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil welcomes the announcement of the winter timetable for the Southern Hebrides.

This follows a week when Mr MacNeil has been in extensive contact with Caledonian MacBrayne to try and better serve the communities of South Uist and Barra.

With the winter timetable due to come into play this month and as travellers require to be able to book journeys and make travel plans, negotiations were pressured.

Commenting on the new winter timetable Angus MacNeil MP said:

“Caledonian MacBrayne seem to have produced an excellent and much improved timetable for both Lochboisdale and Castlebay.  This timetable follows a busy week of negotiations and meetings, at one event 130 people turned out to a public meeting on the Isle of Barra, on the issue of CalMac winter timetables.  The new timetable is a considerable enhancement on winters past.  Indeed, at the beginning of the week, it looked as if Lochboisdale would only have two return sailings but it then emerged that four would be possible and I am glad to say that this will happen, with both Tuesday and Saturday seeing two return journeys between Lochboisdale and Mallaig.

“Lochboisdale has gone from having only four sailings in the winter to now having an amazing nine sailings to the mainland every week.   Four sailings will be direct on the shorter, cheaper route to Mallaig on Tuesdays and Saturdays with the other five connections being linked with Barra.

“Barra which used to have three mainland connections for many years during the winter should now enjoy five direct sailings in the daytime backwards and forwards from Oban.

“This huge improvement follows a frenetic week of consultations with the communities involved and especially Caledonian MacBrayne.

“It’s great that Lochboisdale will have ferries seven days per week and that Castlebay has five sailings.  Two of the four, shorter and cheaper, ferry sailings from Lochboisdale to Mallaig can also be accessed by travellers from Barra using the Sound of Barra crossing.

“I should like to thank CalMac’s Operations Director, Brian Fulton and also consultant Bill Main working for CalMac for their sterling work in their many meetings this week, also Martin Dorchester, Chief Executive of Calmac for helping  to make this possible, it has been a busy week for us all.  It really is a tremendous advancement in winter connections for the Southern Hebrides.

“I know this news will be welcomed by the Barra Transportation Group and the Lochboisdale Amenity Trust, who contacted me on this issue and now see more than double last year’s sailings coming into Lochboisdale.