Scottish ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) has been named the preferred tenderer for the GBP 1 billion (USD 1.4 billion) contract to operate the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services (CHFS) network for eight years starting from October 1, 2016.
The Scottish Government said that CalMac’s bid, which made almost 350 commitments to improve the service, includes a GBP 6 million investment in vessel and port improvements, the introduction of smart and integrated ticketing systems on key routes, as well as an increase in passenger/vehicle traffic by 10% and commercial traffic by 12% over the course of the contract, among others.
“Scottish Ministers will retain control of all of important issues, such as fares and timetables, through the public service contract. Vessels and port infrastructure will also remain publicly owned as they are now,” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.
The Scottish Government intends to award the contract to CalMac following a standard 10-day standstill period.
Before the contract starts the specification of the services will have to be varied to match Ministers’ current requirements, therefore, the total cost will increase to reflect new services.
In June 2015, the government invited CalMac and Serco Caledonian Ferries Limited to take part in the tender for the CHFS contract, as both operators passed the pre-qualification stage of the process. The companies submitted their final bids for the deal in March 2016.
Serco said that its bid was deemed non-compliant by Transport Scotland, as it “sought certain changes to commercial terms aimed at striking a balance between the risks and rewards involved.”
The CHFS contract, which covers 26-routes, is for providing ferry services during a period of eight years in the west coast ferry network.
“The Scottish Government will provide up to GBP 1bn of funding to support the enhancement and development of these services, in addition to fares revenue. It will also ensure that Road Equivalent Tariff (RET) continues to be applied on CHFS routes, bringing significantly reduced fares for passengers, cars, small commercial vehicles and coaches and helping to support local communities and the tourist industry,” Scottish Minister for Transport and Islands, Derek Mackay, earlier said.