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About tarbyonline

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  • Birthday 19/05/82
  1. Have to agree with reality being less exciting than speculation! It's all very well trying to piece together what happened but unless someone was actually there, then they don't really know. Having spoken to people who where actually involved (by the sounds of things something the author of the aforementioned book didn't do a lot of) since this "debate" kicked off on this thread, what Rick is saying tallys up with their account. Perhaps that book would have been better subtitled along the lines of "A media account of the story of a ferry company"? Anyway, back to the original topic. A Stena E-Flexer series is surely an upgrade to Baie de Seine. Something that is only going to make it all the harder for another operator to compete.
  2. Economie operated alongside the DFDS/LD service for a number of months, until DFDS/LD closed the service down due to not being able to make a profit. To say Brittany Ferries copied the DFDS/LD no-frills service with Economie would be an understatement, they even chartered the same vessel once DFDS/LD decided to use one of the Newhaven ships to reduce costs! Effectively BF saturated the market with Economie. I agree though that there was some very muddled thinking on the DFDS/LD side, and they were partially responsible for their own demise. I don't hold out much hope for any Ferry Publications book these days to be honest.
  3. Hardly surprising and something I can see becoming more commonplace. However, who will pay for it, the operators or the taxpayer? I still was a little surprised to see armed police patrolling inside a shopping centre in Leeds the other day. Being from Northern Ireland I'm used to seeing armed police of course (all of our police carry pistols), but not police carrying rifles! Still, it is reassuring to see that if some sort of attack was to unfortunately happen that there are trained people in the vicinity which could limit its impact.
  4. That's due to the sheer volume of traffic which can be shipped between the two ports on a daily basis. To move anything like that type of volume through Portsmouth and Cherbourg for instance would need a lot more ships and a lot of infrastructure investment. Operating costs per unit shipped would also be higher meaning higher ticket prices to ship goods to a port which may well be further from the eventual destination of the Cargo. It's worth remembereing that a lot of the traffic passing through Calais isn't bound for France but Belgium, Holland, Germany, Poland, etc. That the Dover - Calais (and Dunkirk) services continue to grow despite repeated disruption over many years demonstrates just how attractive the route is. It's hardly logical to deal with customs delays by wasting fuel driving to a port that's hours out of the way to take a service to a destination which is further away from the end point of the journey. If anywhere was to benefit from holdups at Dover and Calais I would have thought it would be the routes to Belgium and the Netherlands. For all any of us know at present there might not be any significant additional holdups or there could even be some sort of system to pre-clear shipments (effectively fast tracking) before they get anywhere near the port. While in theory anyone with the necessary resources could start a western channel service, we've already seen how Brittany Ferries react to someone moving in on "their turf". LD lines came along with an alternative business model after all, so BF started Economie and effectively put them out of business by replicating their product. The threat of additional capacity and lower prices from BF make it an expensive enterprise to take them on. There are easier ways of making money in this industry than starting a price war with Brittany Ferries!
  5. Such holdups would surely exist elsewhere as well? Especially in places less geared up for dealing with large volumes of traffic all day every day!
  6. Surely there are easier places for Stena to make money? For instance, chartering vessels to the existing operator.
  7. No, X wasn't modified to anywhere near the extent of her sisters. As for Fishguard, on paper X has far too much freight capacity in addition to being an expensive vessel to operate. Personally I don't see her going to Fishguard myself (one of the displaced visentinis from Birkenhead may make more sense on all but peak periods - much more economical vessels to operate), but I'm sure Stena have something in mind. Word is Stena Europe is to have major life extension work in the next couple of years to keep her at Fishguard. We can only speculate what the longer term plan is for the route, but it does seem to be a route in decline and the current vessel is already paid for. The real growth on services to Ireland is on the routes from England and Holyhead. This has been at the expense of the services to the North and the South of these areas. Which is why to those of us familiar with the actual volumes being carried said E-Flexers for Cairnryan didn't really make any sense unless the announcement was part of a negotiating tactic to get the current vessels at a better price, just as Rick suggested above. It would take a major change in the marketplace for the North Channel to need more capacity in the foreseeable future.
  8. As reported on niferrysite, Stena RoPax have now purchased Stena Superfast VII and VIII outright. As someone much wiser in these matters than me once said "there are no coincidences in the ferry industry". If we assume these vessels are staying put (bearing in mind the cost to convert them for use elsewhere), Stena now have the 2 ships allocated to the Cairnryan route spare. In addition to the 5th option if it has been ordered as reported by shippax.
  9. £120m for a purpose built conventional and a fast craft doesn't sound a lot (and that's before we consider the value of the £). Saying that, the Ben is rather basic I believe (haven't personally had the 'pleasure' so I can only go by photos and conversations with others) so a larger version of the same type of thing mightn't cost all that much, especially if purchased from the Far-East and based on an existing design. Perhaps the fast-craft will be a 'pre-enjoyed' example, though by 2023 I wonder how many suitable examples will be available!
  10. Silja Europa (referred by some as the "white elephant") is an extremely inefficient and expensive ship to operate. I believe the only reason Tallink have decided to operate her is because literally nobody wants her! Many of these ships for sale website are in fact themselves speculative anyway. Do people really think the likes of BF, Stena Line, and DFDS acquire ships worth millions of Euro's from publicly accessible websites? The Stena E-Flexer name is no mistake. From the outset these vessels have been designed to be both efficient and flexible (both in terms of where they can operate and their facilities). Stena have decades of experience in both ship building and chartering as well as working with yards and designers (and designing themselves). BF could do a lot worse than sourcing a new vessel through them! IF as previously announced the 4 initial ships go to Belfast they will be serving 2 very different routes suggesting 2 will be day ferries and 2 night ferries. What's to say BF haven't specified a totally different configuration? As rick says it's been reported (by Shippax) that Stena have exercised an option for a 5th hull from AVIC. They still have another 3 options on top of those 5 vessels. Should Stena return the two Superfast's to Talkink I understand they would need to be returned in pre-converted form, something that will cost a lot of money (on top of the fortune spent converting them for Cairnryan and the money invested since their introduction). Likewise they wouldn't be much use to the likes of BF in their current form. The changes Stena have made are not just cosmetic either. Should add though I'm only speculating here and perhaps Stena can return them whatever way they like (or part of the deal was that Stena paid for the conversion to day ferries). The charter of Stena Baltica and Etretat are unrelated to this arrangement. As for Baie de seine, I've heard well informed whispers that DFDS need her to boost capacity on existing routes. Any speculation of the UK-Denmark link reopening is just that (some would say it's dreaming). The market for such a route is limited in the current climate. It's also worth bearing in mind that the UK's trading relationship with the rest of Europe (including Denmark) up in the air at present.
  11. Honestly cant see BF taking on more Superfasts. Their inefficiently is well known, and they aren't getting any younger either. Life extension work on the current purpose built tonnage sounds more sensible to me than acquiring second hand tonnage and making it fit in any case. I agree with Rick regarding BF getting E-Flexer 3 or 4. Anyone with any knowledge of the NI ferry market knows that anything bigger going to Cairnryan is going to be wasted. It's a declining route if anything, in contrast with Birkenhead and Holyhead.
  12. The latest Shippax traffic statistics for May, which have been seen by NIFS, indicate that EUROPEAN SEAWAY proved a success story as a relief vessel at Larne with growth rather than a decline in freight.https://wp.me/p8Bfsp-1ewIn brief, Stena Line didn't get the uplift in traffic they would have been hoping for!
  13. Mersey/Lagan are very enjoyable as daytime vessels. Its a shame more of the series haven't been upgraded in a similar way.
  14. To be fair I'm seeing a lot of outside deck space and only a couple of people there. The area around the MES which is roped off is only a few metres in any case, with very little actual open space forward of that point (see the drone pic). Unfortunately on these routes, what the timetable says and when the ships actually leave and arrive are often two different things. It isn't unusual for P&O to complete their crossings in little over 90 minutes (and arrive early, or on-time after leaving late), Stena on the other hand have a tendency to leave early and arrive late - up to 15 minutes early/late in some cases adding up to 30 minutes to the actual crossing time! Generally with P&O you will be driving off the ship and on dry land by the timetabled arrival time, with Stena less so. If you come across again you may want to look into some of the short-stay return fares Stena offer (such as the 30 hour return on foot for £30) if you can manage to have Belfast at the start and end of your itinerary. It should work out much more cost effective.
  15. ANY vessel will feel cramped when approaching its passenger capacity, and you did chose to travel on what was a busy weekend. The Superfast's aren't very pleasant either when nearing capacity - I know from experience! I honestly find it hard to believe there was a lack of deck space even if the upper deck was roped off (something I find surprising as P&O have made much of opening up the area and adding additional seating there - the area further forward probably was restricted so the crew can get some rest). In 17 years of service this is the first time I have heard any complaint of a lack of outside deck space on Causeway or Highlander. In any case, Im not sure why anyone would have wanted to spend much time on the outside deck last Saturday (which I assume is when you travelled given the cancellation) - it was a miserable day! I was on the opposite sailing from Larne to you and stayed indoors where it was warm and dry apart from when getting the necessary pictures. There are much larger vessels with less outside deck space in any case. Now the vessel we sailed on, EUROPEAN SEAWAY, is a vessel that does lack outside deck space, which is hardly surprising given she was built as a freight vessel. You would definitely have been disappointed if you had travelled on her! Anyway, i'll let people judge for themselves. In this drone pic (from flickr), the longest outside deck is the one accessible to passengers on both sides, though it is gated off from the lifeboat/FRB back (as shown in the second picture from Scott Mackey's excellent flickr page). I'm not sure how they could provide much more outside deck space to be honest! The ships do have inferior passenger facilities to their Stena counterparts, but in their defence the crossing is significantly shorter and their passenger certificate a third of that on the Superfasts.