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Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard


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The bids are now in for the new eight-year contract to run the vast majority of west coast ferries.  Existing operator CalMac has only one rival for the £1billion contract; the private company Serco. Pictured above is Martin Dorchester, md of CalMac.



And although the Gourock-Dunoon route is excluded from the bid, there were fears that there could be repercussions for the route, should CalMac lose.


In the event that Serco wins the bid to take over the existing routes, then CalMac, a subsidiary of David MacBrayne Ltd, would cease to exist.


Argyll Ferries, which runs the Gourock-Dunoon route is also a subsidiary of David MacBrayne Ltd and a sister company to CalMac.


And with only one year to go before the Argyll Ferries’ route is up for tender, doubts were expressed by concerned locals about who would be operating the Gourock-Dunoon route if CalMac went out of operation.


However, a spokesman for TransportScotland advised the Standard that Argyll Ferries would continue to ply its trade across the Firth, supported operationally by the parent company.


This was confirmed by a spokesman for CalMac who told the Standard: “Regardless of the outcome of the CHFS tender, the Argyll Ferries’ service will continue to operate as we have a contractual obligation to do so.”


At a press conference in Glasgow this week, CalMac md Martin Dorchester said that the company had submitted a ‘compelling case’ to continue to run its existing services.


He said: “I’m confident that we will be the clear winner when a decision is reached in May and, if so, I’m determined we’ll deliver our best service levels yet.”


No details of the bid were revealed at the conference but Mr Dorchester told the Standard: “We know these routes and we know our passengers. We’ve been doing this for a long time, and are in the best position to continue to deliver our service.


“Our other advantage is that, with us, there would be no tricky changeover period. It would be business as usual.”


The Serco bid director, Jonathan Riley said: “My team spent a great deal of time on hundreds of visits to the islands, sitting down and talking to people.


“They know what they need, and it’s up to us, the transport experts, to collaborate and deliver a better service plan.


“I am confident that our proposal will improve the services for the people.”


Serco already run the ferry service connecting Orkney and Shetland with the mainland.


The decision on who wins the bid will be taken before the end of May, with the winning operator providing the service from October 1.


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