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eagleeye

St. Helen being replaced by w class

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There's two SRN4 60-car hovercraft sitting at Lee-On-Solent waiting for a job, and they don't even need a slipway.

 

I think RF, to be honest, will sort themselves out soon. They have 3 good car ferries, 2 good high-speed craft (1 bad one, hopefully soon to become a third good one) and are about to get two new terminals basically for free. Ok so their debt may not decrease, but their owners don't seem as keen to deprive them of essential capital. Without leaving the topic, I think it's only WL who are running unsustainable.

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a 1200 departure from Soton would arrive 1255 & depart 1325, a 1245 departure soton would arrive 1340, depart 1410. A 1330 from Soton would arrive 1425 and depart 1455 and a 1415 from soton would arrive 1510 depart 1540. The original 1200 fro soton would arrive back at 1420 and depart 1500 and so on and so on therefore the vessel still takes 3 hours but you can run 4 and get 45 minute service. They don't need the 35 minute turnround with double linkspans, so 30 would cover it.

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For people living in the South East and London, the Portsmouth Fishbourne route is more convenient than Southampton Cowes due to the significant extra driving distance on the mainland. The original four Saints were an excellent design for the route and very successful. St Clare was an anomaly really. All that is needed in my view is another four Saints which can use the existing shoreside infrastructure without expensive modifications. I don't get the impression that capacity is a problem, the recent difficulties have been more related to reliability. Larger ships would require both shoreside investment and result in a less frequent service. Technical improvements would surely mean that new Saints would be less expensive to operate than the older vessels. By now, Wightlink should have a proper vision for the future of the route rather than just propping it up with a Wight class which can only be regarded as a stopgap in the longer term as the two remaining Saints have only a limited lifespan left.

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Right, let's see if I've got this, as I feel a need to vent my spleen...

 

1973; Caedmon joins the fleet at Portsmouth.

 

1983; The fleet at Portsmouth can no longer cope, so St Catherine/St Helen arrive. Caedmon is sent west to Lymington, being directly replaced by Helen. At that time she has a capacity of 76 cars, whereas Helen can take double this number.

 

2009; Caedmon is finally scrapped and replaced by Wight Light. By modern standards she could only take 48 cars, whereas the W-class can take 65.

 

2015; Helen is retired...and replaced with, say, Wight Light. Her 65 cars is less than Caedmon's 76 were in 1983, when the latter was deemed too small for the route. Despite this, and despite the massive increase in traffic, the W-class is considered a suitable replacement for a ship rwice her size, which in turn replaced a ship which STILL could carry more cars by the standards of the day!

 

 

I despair at Wightlink lately. I'm a frequent user of all three of their services and am probably an ideal customer - I travel frequently but live on the mainland, so am not eligible for Multilink discounts. I book online, always take the car, turn up promptly, always buy an overpriced Costa Coffee, and only expect them to accomodate my small Astra, which can be fitted anywhere. I'm also quite unlikely to defect, as living in London I find that Southampton has neither the convenience of Portsmouth and the A3, nor the attractiveness of Lymington and that crossing. Yet even I am starting to get frustrated.

 

Lymington to Yarmouth used to be a fast, efficient half-hour service when operated by the C-class. It's now getting worse and worse and this latest downgrade will probably finish it off.

 

Portsmouth to Ryde is also becoming a nuisance. The Ryders' open decks are pleasant, but the simple fact of the matter is it's supposed to be a high-speed service, and it just doesn't seem to be now. The waterjets were quicker, and as I recall Pam/Pat were faster still. I much prefer Hovertravel and use their service more often now, which is still very much an express, but it's of limited use if I'm meeting someone at Gunwharf Quays. Although the cost is negligible (assuming they still charge), I also object to paying to drive up Ryde Pier when I am also parking at the top at some expense anyway!

 

Portsmouth to Fishbourne - even that is slower, although I suspect this has as much to do with the underpowered and unwieldy Clare being unable to maintain the older Saints' speed as it does running costs. As many have commented, the standard of maintenance is clearly minimal and loading/unloading too slow, particularly in the case of the Clare. The older Saints are ideal for the route but are old ships and, like cars, need MORE maintenance to continue as they did in their prime, not less. The troublesome Clare is much newer but seems pretty unreliable and, being the biggest unit by far, causes the most issues.

 

Personally, I think Wightlink upgraded the wrong route. They should have spent their money on the eastern link back in 2008, rather than throwing away the "premier service" they managed to build up in the 80s and 90s. Two new ships there instead of the W-class to run alongside the Clare, and keep the Faith (pardon the pun) as backup. I know this would have meant the evergreen C-class carrying on for another ten years, and I know that (with the possible exception of Cenwulf) they were very tired, but they could surely have survived a bit longer in the same way the Saints are surviving now. Fishboune is the most important link, and perhaps they wouldn't have lost so much ground to RF if they'd done it this way round.

Edited by Pigeonrat

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Well, quite. If you're going to have a barney with the LRA you might as well do it in style, and get Clare stuck in the Lymington river! Joking aside, leaving Lym-Yar alone would have saved them all that money in legal costs too!

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Isn't it the case that whilst the Saints used to be able to carry 140 cars when built, this is now much closer to 80 anyway. All down to bigger, partly longer, but most importantly wider cars? They used to be able to run 3 cars side by side along either side of the central casing but that's now almost a 2-1-2 format (although a bit closer in) as otherwise travellers can't open their car doors.

 

That said, BF seem to think that is acceptable on Bretagne deck 5.

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That's true, but I think 80 is a bit pessimistic. They do stagger the cars on the Saints now but I don't think it affects the capacity to that extent, unlike on the C-class where a whole lane was lost on both decks if I remember right. I would suggest the space on the Saints is more organised than on the W-class too, which seem to have a fair bit of wasted deck space...

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Wightlink say the capacity is now just over 100, so if you take away the 40 or so on the two mezz decks (which would never be used again on the Helen anyway, for obvious reasons) you're about the same as the figure for the Wight-class, It will probably just mean more triple-decking on the Clare, with the resultant delays to the timetable.

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Wightlink say the capacity is now just over 100, so if you take away the 40 or so on the two mezz decks (which would never be used again on the Helen anyway, for obvious reasons) you're about the same as the figure for the Wight-class, It will probably just mean more triple-decking on the Clare, with the resultant delays to the timetable.

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Oh, fair enough. Why would the mezz decks never be used again though? Surely the broken one is fixable, and given that it was a freak accident surely the other deck is business as usual? Certainly the other Saints - presumably the same design - are still in use...

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Apparently not the same design and Catherine probably had hers removed before sale. Probably don't want to risk the other one and therefore she is just as large as W Class as 88 was the figure for a flat load of cars when new with 100 flat + quarter, 115 half mezz, 127 three quarter, 142 double. I think 2 vessels on Lymington is ample and the 3rd can cover refits in Winter. The Cecilia and Faith both need a huge overhaul in the next few years if they want them to get them to 35 years old. They need to sort out where the cars are put in the lanes re Clare so you can double lane load and book her for cars only at weekends. Training to optimise her loading should be looked at as there are bottled necks when too many cars sent upstairs and loading stops.

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Interesting...the more you know, eh? I had noticed one or two differences between the early pair and the late pair, eg. the doors onto the open deck etc. But fundamentally I thought all four were identical. Yes, I can see why the other deck going bang would probably not go down well under those circumstances. I'll have to see if I can get on the Helen before she goes and try a bit of spot-the-difference. One thing I think we can agree on though, the lounges in the W-class are less spacious, I find them pretty busy even on the western link.

 

Ta for the information :-) Of course, if Catherine did have her mezz decks removed before she went to Italy, you have to ask why - were Wightlink already "unsure" about them before Helen's failure? I wonder...

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The starboard deck on Helen (teh one which collapsed) was cut up and removed for scrap in July. Since then they haven't used the port one for cars, though she is lowered when the vessel is along the lay-by berth at Gunwharf as the access gangway will only reach to the mezz deck level rather than the top open decks. She always has to berth port-side in at Gunwharf now which necessitates swing ng in the harbour to approach bows first if she wants to moor there.

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The Catherine's mezz decks weren't removed before she went to Italy, still on there.

Well I have learnt something. Trust they still work ok?

 

An extract from the ITV news after mezz failure: The safety of our customers is always our priority at Wightlink. Bringing the St Helen back into limited service, with her mezzanine decks safely secured out of use, will help us to get as many people to and from the Isle of Wight as possible. All of our ships undergo regular, planned maintenance and, even though St Helen’s mezzanine deck is of a different design to our other vessels, we have taken the precaution of having all our mezzanine decks independently inspected and we will continue to check them daily.

– John Burrows, Chief Operating Officer

 

 

 

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It occurred to me that Wightlink may have accidentally or deliberately been clever with this plan. It's likely the W-class ships are cheaper to run than the Saints. If the W is used on overnight or other low-traffic crossings they may end up with a more profitable service overall as they won't have to run the larger saint ships. In the peak summer, of course, W-class will struggle as the fourth vessel but for off-peak journeys this may not be such a bad idea. In fact, were new tonnage to come along, two huge ships along with a w-class size might better fit the economics of the route (by being better able to cope with the large variation between quiet and busy).

 

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It occurred to me that Wightlink may have accidentally or deliberately been clever with this plan.

 

There you go folks.... never thought i would see these two in the same sentence !:rolleyes:

 

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Well if the night boat needed to be more economical then why have they used St Clare over the years? After the 2100 sailing she comes in at 2240 but does not leave until 2400, so a swap could occur.

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I believe the Clare uses heavy oil as fuel so takes a long time to start up her engines as it has to be heated first .and this fuel is cheaper to buy.it was cheaper to leave her running rather than let her go cold then spend up to a couple of hours restarting her . the midnight boat can be full and has been on occasions also to swap a ferry means a battery of safety checks so would not be cost effective .

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I believe the Clare uses heavy oil as fuel so takes a long time to start up her engines as it has to be heated first .and this fuel is cheaper to buy.it was cheaper to leave her running rather than let her go cold then spend up to a couple of hours restarting her . the midnight boat can be full and has been on occasions also to swap a ferry means a battery of safety checks so would not be cost effective .

 

If the Clare runs on heavy fuel, and I can't remember if she does, it is heated all the time, she can be started almost as quickly as the St's, her engines are turned off every trip. The Saint class does run on heavy fuel apart from the last trip when the engineers switch to diesel to clear the heavy fuel out of the system, if the engines were to be stopped over night the heavy would solidify and they wouldn't be able to start them.

The Clare was used for the night boat for carrying freight and as was new at the time to give the St's a bit of a rest. As concerns increased about the cost of fuel she did run at speed 8 or 9 when conditions/weather allowed.

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