CalMac contract for west coast ferries extended by a year

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CalMac contract for west coast ferries extended by a year

The contract for CalMac to run ferries on Scotland's west coast has been extended by a year.

It comes as ministers are considering a direct award to the Scottish government-owned operator without a competitive tendering process.

A direct award is Transport Scotland's preferred option, rather than accepting bids from rival firms.

The contract had been due to expire on 30 September, but it said an extra year would allow further "due diligence" work to take place.

The move comes after a long period of problems on the CalMac network.

The firm has struggled to maintain services with an ageing and increasingly unreliable fleet which it leases from another government-owned agency CMAL.

There have been delays to repairs to the main Arran ferry, cancellation of services to South Uist and islanders on Mull have also faced frequent disruption.

Transport Secretary Fiona Hyslop said it had not been possible to complete the required due diligence work for a direct contract award by 30 September.

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