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Irish Ferries Announce Newbuild for UK/Ireland/France

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In posing the question I was assuming, for the sake of the argument, that BF will see it the way that kgst sees it, namely that staying still in the face of a substantially increased offering from IF, will not be an option.  He said they will have to get their act together, I said or pull out.

If BF does not see it that way, and for them the status quo is fine, then that's probably what we will get.  But if it really does become a case of increase their service or pull out, I think BF may find that pulling out is the only practical option from a logistical point of view. The tonnage is not there to increase the service, and they are not going to increase Cork at the expense of the UK.  

In terms of profitability of the Cork route, yes she is full and yes it costs a lot to use the route.  But I believe it does not carry huge amounts of freight and freight is where the real money is.

BF may well choose to stand still.  After all, even if both the new ship and OW sail full time on Ireland to France, the frequency of sailing from IF will still be no greater than what ICL was providing back in the days when Cork-Roscoff started in the first place.  Fundamentally, Cork serves a rather different market from Rosslare and Dublin.

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11 minutes ago, Gareth said:

 

In terms of profitability of the Cork route, yes she is full and yes it costs a lot to use the route.  But I believe it does not carry huge amounts of freight and freight is where the real money is.

Evertime   I have been on the PA there have been only about  10 -15 trucks & nearly all are refrigerated units carrying shellfish. But is this not more to do with the arrival time of 7:00 am Sunday morning where normal freight would have to sit around for the day because they can't travel on a Sunday ? 

 

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I am wondering what are BF obligations for maintaining Roscoff-Cork. After all, PA is not owned by BF but chartered to them. Some shareholders of the owning company (used to be SABEMEN), namely the local authorities in Brittany may have their word to say in case of a withdrawal.

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Very probably. It's a situation which continues to be a problem and with various knock-on consequences. Motorways in France are generally not that busy on a Sunday (until 5-8pm if it's a long weekend) so they could relax the rules for motorway driving without creating a big problem. Then trucks could at least get close to their destinations and be ready to deliver on Monday mornings. One factory here in Angers starts production at 7.30 on Mondays and often has delays as some of their parts are stuck on the road between the Belgian border and the plant. Ed. 

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1 hour ago, Cabin-boy said:

Very probably. It's a situation which continues to be a problem and with various knock-on consequences. Motorways in France are generally not that busy on a Sunday (until 5-8pm if it's a long weekend) so they could relax the rules for motorway driving without creating a big problem. Then trucks could at least get close to their destinations and be ready to deliver on Monday mornings. One factory here in Angers starts production at 7.30 on Mondays and often has delays as some of their parts are stuck on the road between the Belgian border and the plant. Ed. 

Ed, there was a fair amount of truck movement on the D28 last Saturday, all nationalities too.

I think BF are already seeing a drop off, their figures for Cork in 2016 were down quite a bit possibly due to Epsilon hence the reason for the new build. As Chris pointed out earlier there are many Irish travellers crying out for a quality "cruise" option from Dublin plus the drive north from the likes of Kilkenny & Limerick only takes a couple of hours, less if you go by train and board as a footie. For many passengers it's not always about the fastest, shortest crossing. It's about time onboard and if Irish Ferries can offer this for a cheaper or comparable price to BF and maintain high standards...?

I'd be inclined to think that BF may look at ending the Cork route if their only option was to continue with PA.

I wonder how buoyant the holiday traffic is on Epsilon or more particularly on Oscar Wilde during her Spring & Summer rotations to Roscoff?

Edited by jonno

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44 minutes ago, jonno said:

 

I think BF are already seeing a drop off, their figures for Cork in 2016 were down quite a bit

Was this not due in part to the Pont Aven being out of service for several rotations in that year. Missed sailings have an affect on passenger numbers  and confidence on forward  bookings on the Irish routes as there are limited alternatives. Stena Horizon has been out of service since last Sunday with technical difficulties and I know passengers who were left stranded in Cherbourg swear they will never use Stena again because of the lack of consideration/information given to them

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It's certainly true that BF might have some sort of obligation to sustain Cork.  That indeed might be the reason they are still there today at all.  But if you think about it, sustaining a route out of "obligation" is a pretty thin reason for doing so.  If the route is sustained purely because of obligation then that must mean there is no other reason for doing so (and hence it can't be profitable).  If it was profitable there would be every reason to expand.  Given that we see no apparent urge to expand, we can conclude that the profitability of the route must be marginal at best.  But any obligation to sustain it would surely diminish in the event of an expanded operation from IF, espcecially if that expanansion were to include Cork.

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Perhaps they are making their money from the holiday packages sold (cottages and driving tours etc) rather than just the crossings. They've even offered two-week tours of Ireland and Scotland on the French website by teaming up with Stena from Belfast to provide a complete package with a return via Cork. So it must be worth their while. Ed 

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I can only speak about our family's experience.

Elder son & his family live in the Thames Valley. We live in southern France.  DIL's holiday home is in W Cork.

Ideal itinerary this Summer: drive down to us, spend a week or so down here, drive back up to Brittany, Roscoff-Cork with BF, a week or so at the family home, back to the UK.    But ......... too expensive with BF (£500+ one way).

So, they ended up buying tickets on the direct Eurostar (£100 round trip each) and then having got back, just driving to Wales for the short crossing to Rosslare.

I won't bore you with the numbers - suffice to say that it was significantly cheaper than doing their 'ideal' itinerary.

There is a point here about Marketing.  Eurostar has significantly increased the number of direct services down here to southern France + (and crucially) reduced the prices, not by a bit, but by a lot.  IMO, they haven't made this very public, but those who have occasion to travel down this way, have seemingly noticed.  Loadings are well up.  Surely there's a lesson here?  

 

 

 

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15 minutes ago, Gardian said:

I can only speak about our family's experience.

Elder son & his family live in the Thames Valley. We live in southern France.  DIL's holiday home is in W Cork.

Ideal itinerary this Summer: drive down to us, spend a week or so down here, drive back up to Brittany, Roscoff-Cork with BF, a week or so at the family home, back to the UK.    But ......... too expensive with BF (£500+ one way).

So, they ended up buying tickets on the direct Eurostar (£100 round trip each) and then having got back, just driving to Wales for the short crossing to Rosslare.

I won't bore you with the numbers - suffice to say that it was significantly cheaper than doing their 'ideal' itinerary.

There is a point here about Marketing.  Eurostar has significantly increased the number of direct services down here to southern France + (and crucially) reduced the prices, not by a bit, but by a lot.  IMO, they haven't made this very public, but those who have occasion to travel down this way, have seemingly noticed.  Loadings are well up.  Surely there's a lesson here?  

 

 

 

Guardian, I have a couple of questions if I may?

Was Irish Ferries cheaper from France to Rosslare then adding the ongoing Isle of Innishmore sailing?

Was the car taken on the Eurostar?

I know significant driving was involved either way but just is certainly not a word I'd use when describing the drive anywhere to or from south west Wales... Cardiff is 3 hours from Pembs Dock on a good day, on a very good day, longer from Fishguard.

When we lived in Haverfordwest we travelled to Dover once... it took 10 hours, lots of fuel and a fair few of the remaining marbles I have rattling around upstairs. We decided to pay for one way travel on Oscar Wilde & I.o.I to the dock on the return.

I think for those living in Ireland not wanting to require counselling on their return, Eurostar/Eurotunnel is not an option with a car. I'd also imagine that crossing to the UK from Rosslare then driving to either Plymouth or Portsmouth is a bit beyond the rabbit proof fence for many of them too. Personally I think Neilcvx should take a bow for negotiating the drive from Scotland.

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As I've said before I wouldn't use Dover ever again solely because of the drive M25 in particular, the drive to Plymouth this year was the slowest we've had an extra 2 hours due to congestion although we never stopped in a jam so it's Portsmouth next year , interestingly I could get the Eurostar for free with Tesco vouchers and you can use them for Stena sailings too, the drive Gardian outlined sounds so long I wouldn't do it but everyone's different.

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If BF does stop sailing to Cork then I believe that would be the first time in the 44-year history of the company that BF abandoned a port.  (Not counting its BCIF offshoot and therefore not counting St Peter Port and St Helier as former BF ports).

So, withdrawing their presence from a port with which they are associated is not BF's style.

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8 hours ago, jonno said:

Guardian, I have a couple of questions if I may?

Was Irish Ferries cheaper from France to Rosslare then adding the ongoing Isle of Innishmore sailing?

Was the car taken on the Eurostar?

I know significant driving was involved either way but just is certainly not a word I'd use when describing the drive anywhere to or from south west Wales... Cardiff is 3 hours from Pembs Dock on a good day, on a very good day, longer from Fishguard.

When we lived in Haverfordwest we travelled to Dover once... it took 10 hours, lots of fuel and a fair few of the remaining marbles I have rattling around upstairs. We decided to pay for one way travel on Oscar Wilde & I.o.I to the dock on the return.

I think for those living in Ireland not wanting to require counselling on their return, Eurostar/Eurotunnel is not an option with a car. I'd also imagine that crossing to the UK from Rosslare then driving to either Plymouth or Portsmouth is a bit beyond the rabbit proof fence for many of them too. Personally I think Neilcvx should take a bow for negotiating the drive from Scotland.

Jonno,  I think Gardian meant that his son and family caught the Eurostar direct from London to either Lyon, Avignon or Marseille and he picked them up. They didn't take their car to France. Therefore they would not have been able to catch the ferry direct from Cherbourg to Rosslare. They went back to London first. Whatever the cost of the ferry from Wales to Ireland,  in sure it will have been cheaper than paying the road tolls from Calais to Marseille and back up again. The Eurostar and TGVs,  if booked as soon as the dates are available, are fantastic value. They are called 'Prems' tickets. But they are limited in number and you may need to hire a car at the other end unless you have family who can drive you. I used them in the summers of 2015 & 2016 from Angers direct to Nimes and Marseille and paid around £60 return per adult with the children either free or on a reduced fare. As we were travelling on Saturdays and Sundays I worked out that the cost plus the hire car was equal to or less than the cost of the wear on my car plus fuel, tolls, overnight stops and meals to get us down there. Plus we were in Marseille 6 hours after leaving home and fresh for the onward drive to St Tropez. Ed 

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8 hours ago, jonno said:

Guardian, I have a couple of questions if I may?

Was Irish Ferries cheaper from France to Rosslare then adding the ongoing Isle of Innishmore sailing?

Was the car taken on the Eurostar?

I know significant driving was involved either way but just is certainly not a word I'd use when describing the drive anywhere to or from south west Wales... Cardiff is 3 hours from Pembs Dock on a good day, on a very good day, longer from Fishguard.

When we lived in Haverfordwest we travelled to Dover once... it took 10 hours, lots of fuel and a fair few of the remaining marbles I have rattling around upstairs. We decided to pay for one way travel on Oscar Wilde & I.o.I to the dock on the return.

I think for those living in Ireland not wanting to require counselling on their return, Eurostar/Eurotunnel is not an option with a car. I'd also imagine that crossing to the UK from Rosslare then driving to either Plymouth or Portsmouth is a bit beyond the rabbit proof fence for many of them too. Personally I think Neilcvx should take a bow for negotiating the drive from Scotland.

Jonno ..........

Forgive me - in an effort to avoid too much detail, I probably didn't explain the economics very well.  See below for how it stacked up (very rounded numbers used):

Preferred Itinerary

Drive down to us here in southern France - fuel £60, Eurotunnel £60 (one way), motorway tolls £50, en route hotel £100, so £270.   Then drive back up to Roscoff, roughly the same but minus Eurotunnel, so £210.  Then BF to Cork, £500 (IF was a little but cheaper, but only £30 or so). Finally, a one way crossing to Wales, £150.  All up travel cost = £1130.

What they actually did

Eurostar London- Avignon direct (no car of course, but a 6hr journey and able to use our car when down here) £200 round trip. Then drive to Fishguard, fuel £30.  Round trip ferry crossings £300.  So £530 all up (I've ignored the 'common' elements of the cost such as driving back home from Fishguard).  Thus a 'saving' of roughly £600.

The family has traditionally used IF from Pembroke, but went for Stena ex Fishguard this time because they've changed the sailing times and they worked better for them.  It is indeed a bit of a hike out to west Wales (yes 5hrs, but no more), and they're quite used to it

There were two points about my post.  Firstly (and this is an almost daily subject on here, no matter what the thread) that everybody's start point and destination is different, so you have to figure out what works best for you. If you live in Exeter and want to go to Brittany, its a no-brainer. If you've a 'triangular' trip, then its a bit more complicated.

Secondly, the simultaneous significant increase in service frequency and significant fare reduction by Eurostar. It was a bold marketing initiative. I can vouch for the fact that hire car trade at Avignon TGV station is massive in peak season (not just for passengers ex London of course, but from all over France, Belgium & Germany). With attractive fares, train + hire car beats the grind of the motorway!

 

 

 

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Yes, Cabin-boy beat me to it !

The only thing that I'd add is that the direct service fares on Eurostar seem to be held at a pretty constant rate even if you're booking quite late.  Not so with TGV's, but there are often late-booking offers around to be had, although not in peak season.

 

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10 hours ago, Gardian said:

Yes, Cabin-boy beat me to it !

The only thing that I'd add is that the direct service fares on Eurostar seem to be held at a pretty constant rate even if you're booking quite late.  Not so with TGV's, but there are often late-booking offers around to be had, although not in peak season.

 

Sorry about that!:$ I always though that the Eurostar fares were pretty expensive for late bookings but maybe that's the ones to Paris and Lille and the ones through to the south are still reasonable. Have you tried a Ouigo train yet? I haven't had the opportunity but they do seem good value if you are happy to wait around for connections etc. Ed

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No need to apologise.  Pricing, whether with an airline, train or ferry is a moving feast. You can say something one day and its wrong the next.

Haven't tried Ouigo, but haven't had the need - for those who don't know what we're talking about, its a low-cost service from centre to centre (example Paris - Marseille) on certain trains. You might get a ticket (one way) for €20.  

 

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Yes, except that in Paris it doesn't run from the centre but from the TGV stations outside the city (Massy, Disney and CDG). I haven't tried it either yet as the price of getting from Massy to the centre of Paris by RER negates the Ouigo saving over the normal TGV if booked early enough. Plus you only get hand baggage as standard and pay extra for suitcases. I'm sure I'll find a way to try it soon though. Anyway, we are now way off topic so I'll shut up about trains. :D Ed

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I've just about recovered from our trip to Rosslare and back, with over 500 booze cruisers from Ireland enjoying the complimentary wine tasting on the crossing over to France which was hard work, but brilliant fun. They then virtually emptied the shop on saturday so we've been restoring some semblance of order.

Unfortunately the Captain was busy filing safety reports and stuff so we didn't get up to the bridge this time. The thread has moved on since last week but my only comments would be that despite the increased competition the new IF ship will offer, I can't see BF pulling out of Cork at all. It's a very proftable route for them, whether with freight early/late in the season, or both French and Irish passengers during the busier season. The only reason numbers fell last year was due to the propshaft problem in May, otherwise she pays her way handsomely on this route.

And this is a personal viewpoint but I don't believe IF are gunning for BF at all, I think if they really do come up with a full time 2 ship service from both Rosslare and Dublin they are more likely to have Stena in their sights, who will look even less attrcative with just a Visentini on offer. 

I also think the idea of an Ireland - Spain to be an interesting one, if it works so well for BF from the UK why shouldn't it work from the Emerald Isle?

Anyway it's all speculation until the new ship's schedule is announced. Interestingly when looking at the Flensburg webcam shipbuilding hall yesterday the DFDS vessel under construction had gone, leaving an empty space for the new build - so around 9 months from keel to completion.

Chris

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While this is being discussed in another thread in this Forum and it seems to have gone quiet on this front anyway you can't totally rule out the possibility that Balearia as part of reviving the Gijon-Montoir service could go on to Rosslare -- like LD Lines. Whether this is likely to happen I couldn't say but, if it did, it presumably would be more competition for existing operators in this area.

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So Chris - given how profitable Cork is for BF - do you think there is an appetite at BF for expanding their Cork operation if they had the tonnage available to do so?

Glad you had a great trip.

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14 hours ago, Gareth said:

So Chris - given how profitable Cork is for BF - do you think there is an appetite at BF for expanding their Cork operation if they had the tonnage available to do so?

Glad you had a great trip.

Another interesting question Gareth, and I like the way you've worded it - would they do this if they had that....o.O

Is there an appetite for expanding the Cork operation? Personally I don't think so but only the BF board can answer that one; logic tells me the current Pont Aven schedule suits the company perfectly, even though Irish customers embarking on a 1 week break in France only spend 5 nights in the country. It's also too easy to forget they are actually a French ferry company so there's every reason for them to target the domestic market, and judging by the number of emails I get from www.bf.fr that's exactly what they are doing.

Do they have available tonnage - currently no unless Brigitte would sanction her favourite ship heading west for the summer season. Somebody from within BF ivory towers (France) recently told me that at a rate of £1 = €1.26 the company should make money; the current pitiful rate means they'll be losing millions this year, so it's steady as she goes.

Far more important is to find a suitable Bretagne replacement, easier said than done because although customers still worship her (Ross Brown, where are you when I need you), her joints are creaking, her bladder isn't what it used to be because the plumbing isn't good, and she hasn't enough cabins once it gets busy.

I've heard lots of rumours about replacing her with a second-hand charter; given the difficult market I've highlighted I think building a Pont Aven 2 (Pegasis project) is dead and buried so for now PA stays where she is. As nothing appears to be forthcoming I think BF will take the pragmatic approach and continue with what they have for now, while still actively looking at solutions for the short to medium term.

Of course I may be spectacularly wrong!

 

Chris

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, jonno said:

Here she is...

The keel having been laid for I.F's new girl.

http://31.209.185.103/view/viewer_index.shtml?id=286005

Having followed the DFDS build in the same hangar recently it will be interesting to look at this webcam once a week The progress will be unbelieveable, and I wouldn't be surprised if she's shoved out to the finishing berth around early November, to have the various components added that are under construction elsewhere

Chris

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