Wemyss Bay pier to close for major repairs

Wemyss Bay pier is to close for major repairs in February 2015 for an as-yet-unspecified period of time.
Wemyss Bay pier is to close for major repairs in February 2015 for an as-yet-unspecified period of time.

Rothesay’s ferry passengers face major disruption to their travel plans in the new year after Caledonian MacBrayne announced that Wemyss Bay pier is to be closed for repairs.

Rothesay’s ferry sailings will be diverted to run to and from Gourock for the duration of the repairs, which are scheduled to begin in February 2015. At present no indication has been given of how long the work will last.

A two-vessel service on the Rothesay route will be maintained, with crossing times of 60 minutes. Ten return vehicle and passenger sailings will operate between Rothesay and Gourock from Monday to Thursday, with 11 on Fridays and nine on Saturdays and Sundays.

All travellers on the route will be offered a 15 per cent discount on winter 2014/15 fares to compensate for any inconvenience caused. These fares will be maintained for the duration of the works.

More information about the work and the timescales involved will be issued by Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), which owns the pier and is responsible for its upkeep, towards the end of October, when the contract for the work is due to be awarded.

The Rothesay-Gourock timetable for the duration of the work is as follows.

Monday to Friday

From Gourock: 0550, 0715, 0845, 1000, 1200, 1315, 1455, 1615, 1755, 1915, 2035F.

From Rothesay: 0550, 0715, 0835, 1015, 1130, 1325, 1450, 1625, 1745, 1920, 2030F.

* F - Fridays only.

Saturday

From Gourock: 0815, 0925, 1145, 1230, 1430, 1550, 1730, 1830, 2000.

From Rothesay: 0755, 0925, 1105, 1235, 1420, 1535, 1725, 1835, 2015.

Sunday

From Gourock: 0815, 0925, 1145, 1230, 1430, 1550, 1730, 1830, 2000.

From Rothesay: 0755, 0945, 1100, 1305, 1350, 1600, 1710, 1845, 2000.

Martin Dorchester, managing director of CalMac, said: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the closure, however this is an important and essential investment in the historic pier which will prolong its life for many years and improve reliability of the service in the future.

“CMAL have advised us that work cannot be put off any longer without the risk of a major failure which would render it unusable for an even longer period.

CalMac are engaging with providers of connecting services both on the mainland and the island to ensure that integration with other modes is maintained.

Mr Dorchester said: “We quickly reached the conclusion that a total closure of Wemyss Bay over a reduced period of time was the best option and presented the least inconvenience for customers.

“The logistics of managing the use of Gourock by up to six different vessels presents a real challenge and we have spent a lot of time considering how best to minimise inconvenience to ferry travellers affected by these works.

“We will be moving the ticketing operation and all Wemyss Bay staff to Gourock for the duration of these works to ensure that our customers are looked after by familiar faces. This will also ensure that any inconvenience caused by these unavoidable changes is kept to a minimum.

“The Colintraive–Rhubodach service will be unaffected by the diversion. We have also been able to ensure that the Argyll Ferries’ service between Gourock and Dunoon will be unaffected, although some sailings may not be suitable for people with limited mobility. Affected sailings will be clearly marked on the published timetable, however customers may wish to seek guidance from our Assistance Team for further information.”

The contract for the works is due to be awarded towards the end of October at which point CMAL will have more information about the works and timescales involved. CalMac will issue further information in early November regarding the likely impact on service. In the meantime, full details of the proposed timetable and other relevant information for ferry travellers will be published on CalMac’s website and information for customers updated on a regular basis.