Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd is currently carrying out a refurbishment of the existing linkspan at Port Ellen. The work started in February as CalMac already operated a reduced service during this month and early March due to a vessel refit and, not really planned, the necessary repairs of the Isle of Arran ferry after it hit the pier at Kennacraig. You can find an image of the Isle of Arran ferry lined up at James Watt Dock on the Clydesights website. The crash resulted in more damage than Calmac staff thought at first as you can see from the image (right) of the passenger walk way at Kennacraig. CMAL has taken the planned reduced service to refurbish the linkspan during this period in a bid to minimise disruption for passengers with the ferry using a fixed ramp for the duration of the works.
The current refurbishment will comprise of steelwork repairs, raising the level of the linkspan, as well as an extensive mechanical overhaul and lifting rope replacement along with painting. The linkspan will be lifted from its current location for the works, scheduled from 15th February â€“ 9th March 2010. CMAL has consulted with Diageo who have programmed grain deliveries around these dates to minimise resulting ferry diversions to Port Askaig. CFL will also alert passengers should severe weather result in further diversions to Port Askaig. If all goes as planned normal timetable service will resume tomorrow but make sure to check the Calmac website for the latest information and updates.
Update: When I wrote this post yesterday I already had a feeling that more disruptions would be likely, after all the Isle of Arran ferry has not returned from dock yet. As a result there will be more disruptions. Check out the link above for the latest info.