ARRAN ferry operators CalMac have been hit with fines of £3.5 million in the last year, as concerns rage on about the reliability of their ageing fleet.

The penalty is applied by Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland, and is handed out as a direct result of the ‘performance’.

The £3.5m fine eclipses the pre-tax profit registered by CalMac Ferries Limited in the year to March 2021 by around £200,000.

Details of the penalties have been consistently kept under wraps with the Scottish Government-controlled ferry operator saying they were commercially sensitive.

However, our sister paper, The Herald on Sunday, has seen emails in which a CalMac executive has admitted to the amount of penalties incurred. It is understood that the penalties covered a period from April 2021 to May 2022.

These types of penalty have been given out by Transport Scotland in the past, to rail operators ScotRail, due to its performance.

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However, this money was reinvested in improvements to the Scottish rail network, such as upgraded waiting areas on the Edinburgh to Glasgow route.

While a similar approach could be taken with CalMac, island-based businesses have called for the penalties to be used to compensate those who have been losing money as a direct result of the ferry service disruption.

Concerns are continuing to grow over the ageing fleet of ferries in operation across Scotland.

While work is technically under way to replace one of the current vessels which service Ardrossan to Brodick, the construction is currently five years behind schedule, and costs have more than doubled.

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