Arran's main ferry is finally set to return to service between Ardrossan and Brodick next week.

MV Caledonian Isles is now expected to return to service on Tuesday, April 18 after being out of action for more than four months months.

The vessel was originally taken out of service for its annual overhaul in early January and was in dry dock for nearly a month, with more than £1m of work being done, including engine servicing.

But inspections uncovered further issues including damage to both engines, with the original estimate for a return of between three and five weeks.

The much smaller, and much older, MV Isle of Arran, has provided the island's main ferry link on its own for almost all of the larger ship's time out of service.

CalMac originally provided a two-vessel relief service for the Caledonian Isles' overhaul period in January, also using the MV Hebridean Isles - before the latter vessel, too, was forced out of service with its own technical troubles.

The disruption has cut the number of vehicle spaces available on the route by almost half - while over the busy Easter weekend, foot passengers were advised that they, too, might not be accommodated on their chosen sailing because of capacity issues.

The ferry operator has also provided additional sailings between Lochranza and Claonaig in Kintyre to alleviate some of the capacity pressures on the main Arran service.

In February, CalMac said Caledonian Isles would remain sidelined until March 31 at least.

CalMac have now told local ferry users that repairs and sea trials on the Caledonian Isles are now due to be completed by Sunday, April 16.

A one-day phased return is planned for Monday - when CalMac says the Caledonian Isles may be able to provide some relief sailings to back up its smaller fleetmate - before the main vessel returns to full service next Tuesday.

The timetable for the service between April 18 and May 27 is as follows.


Monday - Thursday:
Depart Ardrossan - 07:00, 09:45, 12:30 15:20, 18:00
Depart Brodick - 08:20, 11:05, 13:55, 16:40, 19:20
Depart Ardrossan - 07:00, 09:45, 12:30 15:20, 18:00, 2030
Depart Brodick - 08:20, 11:05, 13:55, 16:40, 19:20, 2140
Depart Ardrossan - 07:00, 09:45, 12:30 15:20, 18:00
Depart Brodick - 08:20, 11:05, 13:55, 16:40, 1920
Depart Ardrossan - 09:45, 12:30 15:20, 18:00
Depart Brodick - 11:05, 13:55, 16:40, 19:20

The usual two-vessel summer timetable on the route will take effect on May 28.