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Compact Canters save on Scottish ferry fares

Oban, Scotland:  The short length of Waltons of Oban‘s fridge-bodied Fuso Canters allow travel at lower prices than other commercial vehicles on the ferries that connect Scotland’s Western Isles,

The 3.5-tonne model goes for the £48 cost of a car rather than the £140 fee payable for many vans that cannot meet the ferry operator’s 5m length rule.

Waltons’ 7.5-tonne Canters are 5m long so the fares it pays for these trucks are also lower than those charged for virtually every other vehicle in the same weight category.

Proprietor Eric Walton says these savings make a crucial difference to the viability of his operation. “Without the Canter our costs would be a lot higher; in fact, the business just wouldn’t work,” he said.

Walton used a redundancy cheque to found his company in 2002, with a single van. Today its owns a coldstore and freezer, and has nine temperature-controlled vehicles supplied to distribute chilled and frozen foods in Argyll and the islands, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Perth.

Walton operates  a 7.5-tonne Atego, two 3.5-tonne Sprinter vans and six Fuso Canters. The most recent arrivals were a 7.5-tonne Canter 7C15 and a 3.5-tonne Canter 3C13. Both are fitted with dual compartment insulated box bodies, with movable bulkeads, by Tekbo of Glasgow and Thermo King refrigeration units.

"By restricting them to maximum lengths of 5.0 metres we pay lower fares for both Canter models than we would if they were 5.1 metres long," says Walton

The vehicle lengths are minimised by the Canter’s cab-over-engine design and both were also specified with the shortest available wheelbases – 2500mm in the case of the smaller vehicle and 2750mm for the larger.

“By restricting them to maximum lengths of 5.0 metres we pay lower fares for both Canter models than we would if they were 5.1 metres long. And that’s quite right too, because we’re not taking up any more space on the boat than a typical family saloon,” says Walton.

He has ordered two more Canters, a 6.5-tonne 6C15 with 2750mm wheelbase and a 3.5-tonne 3C13 TF model from the new range to be launched in 2012.