The introduction on Monday 23 January of an early morning train service between Inverness and Kyle, arriving in Kyle at 8.40 am, has resulted in changes to the timetable of the passenger ferry service which has been introduced between North and South Strome to combat the closure of the A 890 Stromeferry Bypass.
Monday – Friday, the 60-passenger Sula Mhor from Plockton will make two return journeys in the morning, leaving South Strome at 8.00 am and 9.20 am, and North Strome at 8.15 am and 9.30 am. In the afternoon it will leave South Strome at 4.15pm; 4.35pm and 5.40pm and North Strome at 4.25pm.
On Saturday, the passenger ferry will make two single runs, leaving North Strome at 9.30 am and South Strome at 5.40 pm.
On Sunday, the passenger ferry will make one return journey in the morning, leaving South Strome at 10.20am and returning from North Strome at 10.30am. In the afternoon, the ferry will leave South Strome at 2.20pm and North Strome at 2.30 pm. Between these times council staff will be available at both slipways to contact the ferry for use. Bus connections will be provided for the scheduled sailings only.
The operating hours of the six-car ferry, the Glenachulish, are also changing from Monday 23 January to meet the needs of the local business community travelling between Wester Ross and Lochalsh, which were highlighted at public meetings earlier in the week. Weather permitting, the ferry will operate 7 am – 6 pm between Monday and Saturday. It will not run on Sunday 22 January or any Sunday to give the crew their required rest time.
Due to the limited capacity of the ferry, priority is given to local traffic, with a ticketing system in place at the Golf Course Car Park at Lochcarron and the approaches to South Strome Ferry.
Travel on both ferries is free.
The 46 pupils from Kishorn and Lochcarron will travel daily to Plockton High School from Monday 23 January on the early morning train, arriving for the start of the school day. They will return home at the end of the school day by bus and cross the Strome Narrows on the passenger ferry from South Strome at 4.15pm and 4.35pm. In the event of adverse weather, they will return home by train, which arrives at Strathcarron at 5.56 pm.
The 10 pupils from Applecross, who stay in hostel accommodation at Plockton Monday – Friday, will also travel by train on Monday and return on Friday by passenger ferry.
The A 890 Lochcarron – Kyle/Plockton road has been closed since 22 December, last year, as the result of landslides and the continuing danger of further rock fall at a point 100 yards west of the Avalanche Shelter.
The Council aims to award a contract for stabilisation works early next week. Four contractors have been invited to submit their bids, setting out their methods for as quickly and safely as possible getting the road back open. The earliest indication of the road opening – on a temporary basis – is 17 February, with completion of remedial work planned for mid April.
As a matter of urgency, the Council is examining options for a long term solution for replacing the existing Stromeferry Bypass, including a bridge across the Strome Narrows, a new by-pass and an extension of the avalanche shelters
Public meetings were held on Monday 16 January at Lochcarron and on Wednesday 18 January at Achmore when more than 300 people turned out to have their say on the closure.
The Council has said it will return to both communities in a month’s time to set out the plan of action to reopen the road by the successful contractor and review the interim travel arrangements.