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Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 07:18 GMT
Contest narrows for CalMac routes
Wemyss Bay to Rothesay ferry
There were 17 expressions of interest in the routes
The competition to run the Clyde and Hebrides ferry services has been narrowed down to three contenders, it has emerged.

There were 17 expressions of interest in the first phase of the tendering process for the routes, currently operated by Caledonian MacBrayne.

It is understood that only three bidders now remain - CalMac, Western Ferries and V Ships.

Subsidies on the routes currently cost the taxpayer about 28m a year.

The companies are competing for the right to run the parcel of 25 services from 2007.

Western Ferries currently competes with CalMac on the Gourock to Dunoon crossing.

V Ships is one of the world's biggest ship management companies, servicing a fleet of more than 600 vessels.

It has about 22,500 sea staff and employs a further 1,100 people in offices in 26 countries.

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