FREIGHT-ONLY sailings between Troon and Arran have been introduced to provide support to the island, CalMac has confirmed.

Following successful trials late last week, this twice-daily, Monday-Friday service began today, Monday, January 16 and will be dedicated to carrying freight only between Troon and the island, on the MV Hebridean Isles.

CalMac has also confirmed that introduction of this freight only service to and from Troon will also free up additional deck capacity on MV Isle of Arran, which will continue to operate between Ardrossan and Brodick.

The move comes after days of technical problems affecting the MV Hebridean Isles' bow visor forcing its withdrawal from service.

Businesses and hauliers are being contacted directly about using this temporary service, which will operate on weekdays only.

CalMac says the MV Hebridean Isles is currently unable to utilise Ardrossan as a result of a technical defect which currently precludes safe operation at that port.

The two ships - which have been in service with CalMac for a combined total of 76 years - are currently providing cover on the Arran route while the normal ship, MV Caledonian Isles, is in dry dock for its annual overhaul.

CalMac says that all non-freight customers should continue to use the Ardrossan-Brodick route as well as a backup service running between Lochranza and Claonaig in Kintyre.

The company says non-freight customers should not turn up at Troon as they will not be able to travel on these sailings, due to a lack of passenger facilities.

Don McKillop, area operations manager for CalMac on the Clyde, said: “These new, freight only sailings, are aimed at relieving pressure between Ardrossan and Brodick, by freeing up much-needed space for our other customers.

"This will be a temporary measure until MV Caledonian Isles is back from her scheduled annual overhaul.

“I must stress that the temporary Troon service is for commercial traffic only, it will not be carrying any passengers other than commercial vehicle drivers.

"We are contacting identified commercial customers to offer them spaces, including those with block bookings.

“This will relieve deck capacity between Ardrossan and Brodick and will allow the Tarbert-Portavadie route to resume, which had been cancelled to increase capacity on the Claonaig-Lochranza route.”