Alternative foot passenger services to begin
The Highland Council team have been working to identify measures in response to the break-down on Friday morning of the Corran Ferry’s relief vessel, the Maid of Glencoul.
Staff have been working very closely with CalMac and thanks to their assistance, it is anticipated the MV Corran will now be back in service sooner than was originally predicted.
This however will be in the region of 6 to 8 weeks away, so the Council has been looking at a range of mitigation measures to manage the situation.
Measures include introducing two alternative foot passenger commuting routes, enhancing signage and improving road safety measures on the alternative routes for vehicles using the A861.
Foot passenger route began on Wednesday with a 17.45 service from Fort William Pier to Ardgour.
The catamaran vessel, operated by Cruise Loch Linnhe, can accommodate up to 65 foot passengers.
The service will operate two return trips on a daily basis, seven days a week.
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This will be free for local residents who are able to provide proof of residency and it is hoped to increase the frequency of the shuttle service in approximately a fortnights time if another vessel becomes available.
A second foot passenger service will be provided by a covered fast-rib vessel that will be able to take up to 12 foot passengers at a time across the Corran Narrows using the same route as the ferry.
This service will begin as soon as the boat arrives, anticipated to be early next week, and will follow the regular ferry timetable, so will enable onward travel to Fort William or Glasgow using the existing bus services.
Like the regular ferry service this foot passenger service will be free of charge.
The Council is also exploring options to provide a shuttle bus service on the peninsula to tie-in with this service and more details will follow.
From next week the Council’s roads teams will be carrying out improvement works to extend existing passing places on the A861 and erecting signage.
This work will be carried out overnight to avoid disruption to drivers.
The Council is also working on suitable parking areas for those using the foot passenger services.
The Council wants to stress that with scenic alternative tourist routes around the peninsula available, the area is still very much open for business and anyone with holiday plans can still access all locations.
Maps showing the alternative routes for drivers are available on the Corran Ferry webpage
Chair of the Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Ken Gowans said:
“The last few days have been very challenging for everyone affected by the loss of service which is why we have been focussing on finding solutions and putting in place as many mitigations measures as possible.
“It is proving to be particularly challenging to identify a replacement for vehicular transport across the Narrows.
“However, we are continuing to explore all possible options because we understand the significant challenges this represents for local businesses and supply chains.
“We also will continue to work closely with our multi-agency partners at Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, NHS Highland, the Scottish Ambulance Service, and businesses to minimise any disruption.
“We will be issuing regular updates as and when more details become available.
“I thank everyone in the community for their understanding and support, especially those who have reached out to help council staff to find solutions.
“The A861 route is likely to be busier than normal and we ask all drivers to be extra considerate, to take care especially when on the single-track sections and to use the passing places to allow traffic to safely pass.”