After a long tender process for the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service (CHFS) contract between Serco and Calmac, BBC Scotland and Calmac reported this morning that Calmac has won the £900m contract. Confirming CalMac as the preferred bidder, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the ferry company was "woven into the fabric of the communities they serve".
This ends the uncertainty for all the staff and crews at Calmac as their jobs and pensions are now secured for another 8 years. And for us, users of the ferry services, we'll keep on seeing the good old Calmac logo on the vessels and in the ports. According to this report Calmac included 350 commitments to improve the service in its bid, including £6m investment in vessel and port improvements. The new contract will start on the 1st of October this year.
What these improvements will be is not known at this stage and they will be announced later when more details of the contract will become available for the public. This is due to the fact that Calmac are still covered by a confidentiality agreement with Transport Scotland as the process is now in its "stand-still" period which lasts ten days. This period will give the losing bidder, Serco, the time to study the outcome and to challenge the decision.
The newly elected Scottish First Minister, Ms Sturgeon, added: "Their tender offers a good deal for those communities served by these vital transport links and ensures that we can maximise the opportunities to support and nurture our island economies. "CalMac will better manage demand to drive an increase in traffic, as well as make the ferry services more attractive with the introduction of smart ticketing on key routes." She said the contract meant Scottish Ministers would retain control of all of important issues, such as fares and timetables, through the public service contract.