Overview

Transport Scotland is responsible for several different ferry services. This page looks at the subsidised routes and the contractors undertaking them.

Gourock - Dunoon

Both sides of Cowal Peninsula are linked by a subsidised ferry that travels between Dunoon town centre and Gourock town centre. It is operated by Argyll Ferries Ltd (AFL) on behalf of Scottish Ministers. AFL were awarded a six-year contract in June 2011 to operate this service.

Steering group

The Steering Group was starting by Alex Neil MSP and helps to keep the service accountable to Scottish Ministers. It is currently chaired by Derek Mackay, Minister for Transport and Islands.

Minutes of meetings

Discussion papers

Feasibility study

MVA Consultancy and The Maritime Group carried out a feasibility study of a future passenger and vehicle service with the vehicle service portion being non-subsidised. Their report Gourock-Dunoon Ferry Service: Feasibility Study has been published.

A number of Technical Notes informed the final report and have also been published. These technical notes were work-in-progress and presented initial analysis which was subsequently revised in the light of new information and comments received.

Following the completion of the Feasibility Study, the Scottish Government completed a market engagement exercise with potential operators. This will inform our future policy and procurement options and you can read the Market Engagement for the Gourock Dunoon Ferry Service report. Our aim is to provide long-term solutions for improving travel between the two towns.

The consensus is that for route reliability to improve, the service needs more suitable vessels. It is likely that new, purpose-built tonnage will be required.

A paper considering the options open to the Scottish Ministers under the relevant EU legislation and guidelines Gourock-Dunoon Ferry Service – Vessel Procurement has been published.

Following a competitive tendering process, on 7 June 2011 AFL was awarded a six-year contract to operate this ferry service.

The contract runs from 2011 until 2017.

View the contract and variations.

The procurement for the next contract, post 17, has commenced and a full procurement timetable will be added in due course.

Freedom of Information requests

In response to a Freedom of Information request asking for advice received from David MacBrayne Ltd on the use of the MV Coruisk on the Gourock-Dunoon route, the following response has been made available.

In response to a Freedom of Information request asking for information regarding RET fares, the following response has been made available.

In response to a Freedom of Information request asking for information regarding the MVA study, the concept of a “defensible subsidy” and the position of the European Commission, the following response has been made available.

In response to a Freedom of Information request asking for information regarding Harbour dues at Gourock and Dunoon, the following response has been made available.

MV Coruisk

On 19 September 2013 the Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, announced in Parliament that the MV Coruisk would be made available over the 2013/14 winter as an additional passenger only vessel on the Gourock-Dunoon town centre route.

Reports on the deployment of the Coruisk have now been published.

Freedom of Information requests

In response to a Freedom of Information request asking for advice received from David MacBrayne Ltd on the use of the MV Coruisk on the Gourock-Dunoon route, the following response has been made available.

In response to a Freedom of Information request asking for information regarding RET fares, the following response has been made available.

In response to a Freedom of Information request asking for information regarding the MVA study, the concept of a “defensible subsidy” and the position of the European Commission, the following response has been made available.

In response to a Freedom of Information request asking for information regarding Harbour dues at Gourock and Dunoon, the following response has been made available.

Clyde and Hebrides

CalMac Ferries Ltd provide the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services under tendered contract with Scottish Ministers. You can read about the plan for the future of these services in the Scottish Ferries Plan 2013-2022. The contract runs until 2023.

CalMac Ferries Ltd (CFL) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of David MacBrayne Ltd, which is wholly owned by Scottish Ministers.

Contracts and evaluations

On 17 February 2015, the Contract Notice was submitted to the Official Journal of the European Union, signalling the Scottish Government’s intention to take forward a competition that will see a contract awarded at the end of May 2016 for the provision of the services from October 2016.

The service is regularly evaluated. Read the results of those evaluations below:

Northern Isles

The services to the Orkney and Shetland Islands supported by the Scottish Government are Serco NorthLink Ferries and Shetland Line 1984 Limited. They are provided under tendered contracts with Scottish Ministers.

Northern Isles ferry services contract

  • Operator: Serco NorthLink Ferries
  • Contract: 6 years (July 2012 to April 2018)
  • Areas served: Ferry services between (a) Aberdeen, Kirkwall and Lerwick and (b) Scrabster and Stromness.

For more information visit the Northlink Ferries website

Route map for Northern Isles

The current contract between the Scottish Ministers and Serco NorthLink Ferries to operate ferry services to and from the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland to the Scottish mainland is due to terminate in April 2018.

A public consultation on options for future Northern Isles ferry services was conducted from 11 June to 30 September 2010.

The relevant consultation documents are available for information only below.

Northern Isles Ferry Service

Invitation to Submit a Final Tender – Instructions to participants 13 February 2012

MV Hamnavoe

A copy of the report into the breakdown of the MV Hamnavoe in April 2013.

Northern Isles freight contract

Operator: Shetland Line 1984 Limited, part of the Streamline Shipping Group

Contract length: 6 years (May 2008 to May 2014). View the contract

Areas served: Freight shipping service between Aberdeen, Kirkwall and Lerwick

For more information visit the Streamline Shipping Group Ltd website

Non-Subsidised Ferry Services

The following links provide information about major ferry services which are not funded by the Scottish Government:

There are also a number of privately owned operators who provide local ferry services throughout the Highlands and Islands.