Ardrossan Steering Group - questions and answers - March 2022

1. Project update and engagement

  • We acknowledge the frustrations felt by the island communities and Campbeltown regarding the delay to the Ardrossan project, and ensuring that views are heard and understood is an important part of this project.
  • We can give the assurance that the Steering Group is doing everything it can to progress the works; such as the Landside infrastructure designs, Passenger Access System and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
  • Transport Scotland continues to engage with Peel Ports on the commercial arrangements for the project.
  • We remain committed to a solution at Ardrossan that can be delivered in a cost effective way reflecting the needs of all of the partners involved.
  • The Ardrossan Task Force in February 2021 announced the decision to temporarily relocate ferry services to Troon during the Ardrossan construction period following a public survey.
  • Further public consultations will be undertaken in relation to Service Timetables. Details of this will be published in due course.
  • In December 2020 – a project update was published which outlined the activities undertaken since October 2018.

2. How much will this cost and who is paying what?

  • The project at its current stage of development is estimated to cost between £35-£40million.  The final cost of the project will not be known until the tender and procurement process has been undertaken and a contractor appointed.
  • Peel Ports Group and North Ayrshire Council have committed funds to the project, along with external funding partners; with a significant contribution being sought from the Scottish Government.

3. Who is in charge of the programme overall?

  • The development works at Ardrossan are being overseen by a Ministerial Task Force which brings together Transport Scotland, Peel Ports Group Ltd, North Ayrshire Council (NAC), CalMac Ferries Ltd (CFL), Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), the Arran Ferry Committee and Kenneth Gibson MSP.

4. How long will the work take?

  • The marine and landside infrastructure works are expected to be completed within 21 months of construction commencing. 

5. Is it still the plan to start next year?

  • The project is currently in the planning and design phase.
  • A project programme will be made available following the tender stage, however programme dates are subject to change taking account of funding approval, contract award and contractor mobilisation.

6. Why is it taking so long to agree a design when the new vessel should have already been in service?

  • The planning and design phase; and approval process of any project can be both lengthy and complex depending on the nature of the project.
  • The Ardrossan project design phase has taken longer than anticipated.
  • The marine design – option 2 was signed off by the Ministerial Task Force in 23 April 2019, and will be progressed to exemplar design and included in the  tender stage.
  • Landside Infrastructure work-stream is led by North Ayrshire Council (NAC) and  a public consultation on the landside design was launched on 21 February 2022 to obtain community feedback. NAC are currently re-scheduling the public drop in event on Arran with confirmation of dates to follow in due course.

7. Will the work be complete before the MV Glen Sannox is introduced and if so where will it berth?

  • The works are not expected to be completed prior to the delivery of the new vessel.
  • Service continuity plans continue to be developed, including the temporary use of Troon.

8. Will this work reduce the frequency of unscheduled overnight berthing at Brodick?

  • The proposed works to the Arran Berth are required to ensure the vessel won’t overhang the berth as this results in poor mooring arrangement and fender support. Therefore, it can be expected that the vessel will be able to remain on the new berth to a greater extent than present.
  • As such, the frequency of unscheduled overnight berthing is expected to reduce under the works being proposed.
  • However, the port of Ardrossan is exposed to swell from the SW – WSW directions and large swell from those directions can enter the harbour area.  As the effect of swell cannot be fully mitigated there may still be a requirement for unscheduled overnight berthing at Brodick.

9. We have heard the MV Glen Sannox won’t fit into the Irish berth is this true and if so, why when larger boats have used it historically.

  • The works to the Arran Berth should reduce the requirement to use the Irish Berth once completed. The Irish berth however is subject to weather conditions as the prevailing wind directions could impact on service should it be used.
  • The MV Glen Sannox will fit into the Irish Berth however it would be difficult to deliver a safe and resilient service to the Irish Berth given the frequency of service and turnaround times. This is because the ‘entrance’ to the Irish Berth, between Winton and Montgomery piers is narrow and out with safe berthing margins for the size of the MV Glen Sannox; berthing is already much slower when the MV Caledonian Isles uses this berth which is largely due to the vessels size.  It is also not suitable for prevailing wind conditions (existing vessels only use the Irish Berth in Easterly or light winds).  Previous larger vessels operating to the Irish Berth only had a poor reliability record and even a grounding, whilst operating a much less frequent timetable than CFL.

10. What other vessels will be able to use the upgraded berth once delivered?

  • The new infrastructure will accommodate the three primary vessels on the route: MV Glen Sannox, MV Caledonian Isles and the MV Hebrides
  • Consideration is being given to secondary vessels using the berth and any limitations on operation such as tidal restrictions, passenger access etc, for MV Hebridean Isles, MV Isle of Arran, MV Isle of Mull, MV Lord of the Isles, MV Finlaggan and the MV Isle of Lewis.

11. Will there be an effective Passenger ramp provided at Troon to avoid everything going thru car deck? Including effective mobility impaired access?

  • We are continuing to progress with the service continuity plans, which includes passengers access facilities being available to ensure an optimal service can be provided from Troon during the upgrade work.

12. Will the new building be a copy of Brodick? If 2 storey’s will there be an escalator?

  • The design of the new terminal building will be informed by public consultation which launched on 21 February 2022 led by North Ayrhisre Council; . comments and feedback will be fully considered prior to a final design being developed.
  • However, we can confirm that the building will take cognisance of the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 and Health & Safety Regulations in regard to passenger facilities.
  • It is envisaged that the building will be two storeys in height with a passenger access system connecting the upper floor to the vessel. Feedback received from communities regarding the Brodick terminal for example: passenger’s access and egress, passenger experience and stairs/lifts is being considered in the design of the Ardrossan terminal building.

13. Will the PAS be the same as Brodick?

  • The design of the Passenger Access System at Ardrossan will be the responsibility of CMAL in collaboration with PPG and NAC. The final design has yet to be finalised, however the design of the PAS will be significantly shorter that the PAS currently installed at Brodick, estimated to be around 50metres. 
  • The Steering Group has taken cognisance of the communities’ feedback regarding the Brodick PAS and has factored this into the design criteria as well as lessons learned from previous projects.
  • The PAS will be an integral part of the overall design of the port and will be fully integrated with the terminal building.

14. Various reports suggest that the skippers have had difficulty berthing on the simulator. Is this true and if so why proceed?

  • No, this is untrue. The reason for undertaking the simulations was to test the operational limits of the vessel against proposed infrastructure upgrade options, without the risk to actual vessels, infrastructure and people.
  • Planned sea trials will offer CalMac Masters and crew the opportunity to experience first-hand how the vessel performs prior to being deployed on the route.

15. Is LNG safe? Will it actually be more efficient and environmentally friendly?

  • We are currently engaging with all parties on the LNG facility including the Health & Safety Executive.
  • The LNG facility will be built in line with industry and safety requirements.
  • The project seeks to minimise the carbon footprint where practicable particularly through the introduction of LNG bunkering facilities.
  • The upgrade includes the installation of LNG bunkering facilities which will be the first for a ferry service in the UK. LNG has a reduced GHG emission compared to MGO of c.20-25%.
  • LNG also has significant local air quality benefits with shore-powering providing for overnight powering of vessels, with significant local noise and air quality improvements for residents and crew.

16. Operation of  a different timetable- what will this mean?

  • Our aim is to provide as close to the current timetable where possible when services operate out of Troon. No final decision has been undertaken regarding timetables however the timetables will take cognisance of the demand on the service and passage time from Troon.
  • CalMac will undertake a public consultation in the coming months regarding service continuity, timetables and transport connectivity  to better understand service users’ needs and ensure these are considered.
  • A Passenger Engagement Survey was undertaken in November 2019 by CalMac on the Ardrossan route, and this will help form part of the service continuity plans during the construction period which are currently being developed.
  • Read the Passenger Engagement Survey Report on our Ardrossan Harbour Task Force web page

17. What consideration has been given to notifying travellers of the changes to the services not operating from Ardrossan?

  • Informing travellers of service changes is part of the service continuity plans being developed, which includes discussions with Road and Rail operators

18. Will there still be 10 sailings per day?

  • See Answer 15.
  • Further engagement as stated above will be undertaken by CalMac.

19. How will the work impact the service to Campbeltown and which route will get priority if revised timetable causes conflict?

  • The service continuity plan and the development of timetables will aim to ensure there is no conflict between services. All timetables that will be put in place during the construction period will aim to keep disruption and changes to a minimum.

20. Will connectivity eventually be improved with better bus services including Ardrossan harbour in their route?

  • Transport Scotland and CalMac continue to work collaboratively to improve integrated public transport connectivity with ferry services at each of the ports, Ardrossan and Brodick.
  • One of the objectives from Peel Ports and North Ayrshire Councils commitment and investment to the Ardrossan project is to improve accessibility and the quality and reliability of ferry services supported by excellent multi-modal transport interchanges that offer travel choice for all users.
  • This will include: active travel and accessibility improvements including upgraded connections to the town centre and existing transport facilities; a virtual platform providing onward public transport information; and a covered walkway to the Harbour railway station.
  • NAC continues to engage with the Regional Transport Partnership; Strathclyde Partnership for Transport,   and local operators to improve active and sustainable travel opportunities.
  • NAC’s investment will help grow the economy, increase employment, maximise links and support the regeneration of North Ayrshire.

21. Are there contingency plans for delays to works?

  • Yes, contingency plans for disruptions and any delays to the infrastructure works are currently being developed as part of the service continuity planning.
  • Gourock may also be considered as an alternative mainland berth in certain conditions if Troon is unavailable.

22. On completion, can Ardrossan cope in summer with 2 boats serving Arran and Campbeltown with the Glen Sannox and CI?

  • The aim of the project once complete is to deliver a resilient port at Ardrossan.
  • It is expected that with both the MV Glen Sannox and the MV Caledonian Isles will provide a resilient ferry service operating to the new Ardrossan. With this, it is also expected that demand will be met over the summer months as MV Glen Sannox provides greater carrying capacity than the current secondary vessel MV Isle of Arran.

23. Have freight carriers been consulted to ensure any diversion to Troon will not compromise their services?

  • As directed at the Task Force in February 2021, Troon will now be the temporary port for the ferry service during the construction period at Ardrossan.
  • CalMac will work closely with freight carriers to understand their service needs and feed these into the service continuity plans prior to any decisions being taken on timetables. 

24. Where will the “port of refuge” be during the work and until Gourock is repaired?

  • Troon will be used during the construction period at Ardrossan and will be used as an alternative mainland port to support CalMac services during any periods of disruption.
  • Gourock linkspan life extension works were completed earlier this year therefore ferry services may operate there as an alternative mainland port should Troon not be available.

25. How will you keep the community updated on progress? Some don’t use social media!

  • A communications strategy for during the construction works is currently being progressed by the Steering Group, whereby all methods of communication will be used to ensure the general public is kept informed of progress. For example – posters, newsletters in the ports and on vessels as well as a dedicated webpage.
  • We will also work with local organisations and representatives such as the Arran Ferry Committee to raise awareness of the projects, and it’s progress through their communication channels.

26. What’s happening about the Troon works?

  • The Troon works commenced on site in July 2021.
  • A separate Troon Q&A is published on the TS Ardrossan webpage.