FERRY operator Caledonian MacBrayne is making plans for next winter on the assumption that the two new ferries for the Ardrossan-Arran route STILL won’t be in service.

According to our sister title, The Herald, CalMac is making preparations for its 2024-25 winter timetable that don’t include MV Glen Sannox – the first of the two new vessels due to be delivered by the troubled Ferguson Marine yard in Port Glasgow.

According to the most recent delivery schedule, the Glen Sannox is due to be delivered in March next year – seven months before the 2024-25 winter timetable starts .

But there have been doubts raised over whether that schedule will be met, with Ferguson Marine chief executive David Tydeman saying delivery will depend on the progress of trials of the new ship.

It’s six years to the day since the hull of the Glen Sannox was launched, on November 21, 2017.

A sign was put up at the Ferguson Marine yard earlier this month giving a launch date for the second Arran ferry, MV Glen Rosa, of March 12, 2024.

But due to the project being beset by ongoing delays Glen Rosa, which should have been in operation five years ago, won't be delivered to Caledonian MacBrayne until May 2025.

It’s understood that the timetables for the Ardrossan-Arran service will be reconfigured once the Glen Sannox is actually delivered and ready to enter service.

The latest update throws further doubt on the plan to divert the Arran service away from Ardrossan, where major upgrade works which are required to allow the new Arran ships to use the port have also been delayed.

The ships will have to sail between Brodick and Troon, instead of Ardrossan, until the improvement works at Ardrossan are complete.

The Scottish Government announced in August that the procurement process for the Ardrossan upgrade had been put on hold due to rising costs – six years since Humza Yousaf, who was then Scotland’s transport minister, gave the project the green light.

Prior to that August announcement it had been expected that the Ardrossan works would not be complete until at least 2026.

A review of the Ardrossan harbour project is expected to be complete later this month.

On the 2024-25 timetable plans, CalMac confirmed that it was in consultation with stakeholders, and said it was "standard practice" to plan for what they know is available.Robbie Drummond, CalMac's chief executive, said: "We will shortly commence consultation over the winter 2024/25 timetable in line with normal process where we consult on behalf of Transport Scotland.

"Until we have final confirmed dates for deployment of new vessels we will continue to plan timetables without them, adding them as they become available.

"It is standard practice for all ferry operators to only timetable vessels when they have a confirmed deployment date. This is to avoid disrupting customer travel plans if bookings had to be subsequently cancelled should a vessel be unavailable.”

When government-owned ferries procurement agency CMAL placed the order with the Inverclyde shipyard nearly eight years ago, the two ferries were expected to cost £97m and were due for delivery in 2018.

The project is now three and a half times over budget, with the latest estimated cost put at £360m - while £35m has had to be spent on redesigns in the last 18 months.