CalMac boss hails year of ‘genuine improvements’

Caledonian MacBrayne's Managing Director, Martin Dorchester.
Caledonian MacBrayne's Managing Director, Martin Dorchester.

The chief executive of CalMac Ferries Ltd has highlighted the “substantial positive changes” brought in by the company in the course of 2015.

Martin Dorchester said the year had featured “many changes and challenges” and had seen “genuine improvements to our services and significant, tangible commitment to the communities we serve”.

With just a few weeks to go before the company submits its final bid to the Scottish Government for the new Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Service (CHFS) contract, Mr Dorchester said he was confident CFL would be “the clear winner” in its battle with private firm Serco for the eight-year deal.

Looking back on the last 12 months, Mr Dorchester said: “We have seen some of the stormiest winter weather on record, and also worked closely with our employees to overcome a number issues,”.

“And we have also brought in substantial positive changes – whether that be achieving formal industry accreditation for our customer services department, making us the first ferry company to achieve the rigorous standards and commitment required for Contact Centre Association global award, through to the award of Living Wage accreditation to ensure fair pay for staff and primary contractors.

“It has also included the innovative installation of state-of-the-art fuel monitoring systems across the major fleet making substantial savings for the taxpayer and the environment, and award of VisitScotland’s Taste Our Best quality mark to all ten of our Mariners cafes, to name but a few.

“We undertook a major community engagement programme with 24 meetings across the network as part of the bid and were delighted with how many people came out to see us; there was great quality to the suggestions mooted for how you would like to shape your ferry provision for the next Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services contract.

“I would like to thank all those who took time to be part of this process. As you all know, we are involved in the closing stages of the bid to continue to provide the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services contract and I do understand these are uncertain and unsettling times for many. A huge amount of work has gone into this and I am confident that, as an internationally recognised, multi award-winning ferry operator, we will be the clear winner.

“We know we don’t always get it right – but one thing I absolutely can assure you of is that we always try to get it right; and when we don’t we will always try harder. We have every intention of continuing to work tirelessly to make sure that our communities the length and breadth of the network are well-served and also well-supported.”

CFL and Serco Caledonian Ferries Ltd have until February 9 to submit their final CHFS bids to the Scottish Government; the name of the successful bidder will be announced at the end of May.