THE Scottish Greens have called for a review into replacement plans for the fleet of CalMac vessels after it emerged more than 1000 ferry trips had been cancelled due to technical issues last year.

The figure represents an increase of almost 300 from the previous year. In total 5653 journeys were cancelled.

John Finnie, Green MSP for the Highlands and Islands, urged the Scottish Government to launch the review. He said as CalMac is trusted to deliver “lifeline services to remote and island communities” the cancellations were concerning.

He went on: “Behind these cancellations are people unable to attend hospital appointments on the mainland, missed job interviews, small businesses unable to send and receive goods, and a loss of important tourism revenue.

“We know that the bulk of the fleet needs renewed. The average age of the CalMac fleet is 23 years and the Scottish Government’s own ferry plan for 2013-2022 highlighted that the majority of the vessels needed to be replaced.

“This hasn’t happened and we’re left with the situation where we have an ageing fleet which requires longer periods of maintenance and repair.”

CalMac’s director of operations Robert Morrison defended the operator’s record, pointing out its 99.35% rate of reliability and reiterating a pledge to invest more than £21m into the vessels this year.

A Scottish Government spokesman said Transport Scotland is working with CalMac to “develop investment programmes” for routes and services.

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They went on: “While reliability currently stands at around 99.35%, we look forward to working with all interested parties to continue to deliver improvements, building on the substantial investment in routes, services, vessels, harbours and fares which have been made in these services in recent years and which have led to significant improvements in connectivity, capacity, affordability and passenger numbers.”