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Radical Ideas for BF "Expansion"


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I'm pretty sure the last ferry to sail out of there was one of the Superfasts probably something similar would do again it is pretty rough if you head north out of the Firth one of the Northlink ferries has just had repairs to its windows due to storm damage, with the new Queensferry crossing opening this year (hopefully) it makes Rosyth even easier to get too.

As a side note "The bridge at 50" is on BBC iPlayer and features the area and the most jam packed ferry you will ever see.

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Except I've got those earmarked for Stena's new Harwich to Gothenburg service!

I wouldn't dispute that PA could make the crossing without sinking but I find the thought that BF would contemplate sending her on a direct transatlantic pleasure cruise to be totally ludicrous on so

Hi hf_uk, What a stupid, but quite interesting thread!   Out of interest and in reply to your question, I can't give precise figures for the PA but I have a chum who is Purser on the Os

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1 hour ago, Gareth said:

The 1980s Baltic Sea palaces are not the best seakeepers to cope with the sorts of conditions you get in the northern North Sea though, are they?  The old Queen of Scandinavia struggled a bit on the Norway route I seem to remember?  Hugging the UK coast from Rosyth all the way down to the Norfolk coast before heading across to Zeebrugge was one thing, but the passage from the Forth across to Bergen would be something else.

I think they're fine, I travelled on the three of them to Bergen and Gothenburg under their various names or colours. PoB cope well with the Bay for over a decade too.

Mariella will probably end up as Moby Mama, the seem to like the Baltic ships in general and DFDS cast offs in particular.

Neil's idea of another Superfast could work, we know they can handle frequent Atlantic rotations, limiting the pax space to berth numbers has worked well for BF and there'll be two available around 2020...?

Edited by jonno
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Post Brexit  there may be some time consuming delays entering the EU from the UK  and vis vers,  At Dublin airport the US Customs and Immigration Service operate a pre flight clearance for passengers travelling to the US , which means they are treated as a domestic flight on arrival in the US and avoid long delays at immigration and customs after a long flight .  My point is , would it be feasible for ferry companies to operate a similar service from Ireland to the Continent for UK passengers . Taking into consideration the unique relationship that the two countries have plus the common travel area that will continue to exist between the two countries .I was thinking of maybe an 'in transit area' at the Dublin terminal  for passengers connecting on wards to the continent . 

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On 24/04/2017 at 18:00, hf_uk said:

Seeing the subject has been broached, I wonder what the actual range of the Pont is on a full tank?

Hi hf_uk,

What a stupid, but quite interesting thread!

 

Out of interest and in reply to your question, I can't give precise figures for the PA but I have a chum who is Purser on the Oscar Wilde. The vessel has 2 tanks, the main one for Heavy Fuel Oil has a 1070 Metric Tonne capacity, the second smaller one for marine diesel 255 Metric Tonnes. She burns about 80 tonnes per day and these days doesn't get much above 21 knots. New York to Plymouth is 2891 Nautical Miles, so in a 24 hour period she should cover around 500 NM, around 6 days sailing time.

Unless I'm completely wrong with the figures she could just about manage the round trip on one full tank with the spare on to see her home. I'm assuming Pont Aven should have a roughly similar autonomy. 

 

Chris

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Back to the discussion of a north west England - France service, I agree with the poster who suggested Heysham probably would not be a suitable port (or would certainly reuire some work doing), and Holyhead would be unsuitable as it takes a while to drive there thus defeating its purpose.

However, Liverpool is perfectly set up for a service to France, be it Roscoff, Cherbourg or St Malo. It would be attractive to those north of Birmingham who before may have seen no sense in driving all the way to the south coast to get a ferry to France. Thus the route would be ideal for existing customers and would probably attract new ones as well as freight.

Done with a suitable cruise ferry, eg/ 'The Pont', Bretagne, MSM or 'The Cap' and potentially a crossing in less than 20 hours it is not as a ridiculous idea as some may believe.

I am sure at some point the heads of BF have discussed this, I wonder what their oinions on such a route being viable are?

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I suspect that there would not be enough Scots to justify a BF departure from north of the border so perhaps Liverpool is an interesting departure point as it would be around 200/250 miles from central Scotland as opposed to 450 to dear old Pompey. It is always interesting to note just how many Scottish cars there are in the queue at Portsmouth so there quite a few of us Francophiles north of Hadrian's Wall. A long overnight crossing from Liverpool to Brittany or Normandy would be excellent as you would probably arrive at a sensible time instead of the 6:30 arrival time into Caen, several hours before France opens for business. Pie in the sky perhaps but we can always dream.

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Yes, as we said previously, if any departure port would work it would be Liverpool. But we can probably infer from the fact that BF does not offer a Liverpool route that it is probably not viable. (As I said earlier, it would only make sense as a business model if it was viable on the basis of generating traffic that would not have otherwise routed through Plymouth or Portsmouth. If all it would do is to take traffic that would otherwise have used existing BF routes then there is no point from BF's point of view.)

And don't forget, we have it definitively from the esteemed lips of Chris FW: It is a stupid idea! ;):)

Edited by Gareth
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Whatever the offer it has to attract traffic in both directions, so there would need to be an incentive for French tourists to visit Scotland or the north of England. Could PA not do her run to Cork as usual (perhaps leaving a couple of hours earlier) on a Friday/Saturday then continue up to Liverpool, pick up a new load,  return to Cork late in the evening (giving the daytrippers a much longer time ashore) and then head back overnight to France and get into Roscoff some time before midday. Ed. 

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23 hours ago, Gareth said:

Yes, as we said previously, if any departure port would work it would be Liverpool. But we can probably infer from the fact that BF does not offer a Liverpool route that it is probably not viable. (As I said earlier, it would only make sense as a business model if it was viable on the basis of generating traffic that would not have otherwise routed through Plymouth or Portsmouth. If all it would do is to take traffic that would otherwise have used existing BF routes then there is no point from BF's point of view.)

And don't forget, we have it definitively from the esteemed lips of Chris FW: It is a stupid idea! ;):)

Thanks for that Gareth,

First time my lips have ever been referred to as "esteemed".

My comment about it being a stupid idea was referring to the Transatlantic aspect, just imagine what the fare would be.....!

I can see the attraction of a North of England -France route, but I doubt the head honchos at BF have ever even considered the idea. Firstly the only French port worth considering would be Cherbourg as it's central. Dublin -Cherbourg takes 19.5 hours with Epsilon doing a fair lick. Add on another 3.45 hours from the corner of Anglesea to Liverpool and there is very little time to turn around. Secondly ask any ferry expert about the likely success of a new route, and the reply will be there has to be year round freight business to underpin the operation. BF currently charge around £500 per unit, 3 times a day on the Portsmouth - Caen route, and more to St Malo. So on that basis they would expect to get £1500 for a 22 hour sailing - no way. Thirdly hauliers would prefer there vehicles to be making money, before heading to the South Coast ports for a shorter, cheaper overnight crossing. And finally I can see the argument was put from a private car point of view, but at the end of the day there are probably not much more than 12 weeks per year when you and I are prepared to pay full whack for the crossing, because of school holidays and we have to; therefore 40 or so weeks when fares would be discounted.

 

Anyway that's enough waffle for a sunday evening; we saw your old man yesterday hf_uk, he was on fine form!

 

Keeping my fingers crossed there isn't yet another surprise election result over here next weekend ......:S

 

Chris

 

 

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2 hours ago, Fine Whine said:

I doubt the head honchos at BF have ever even considered the idea.

Indeed Chris.  But there's a part of me that quite likes the idea that this forum might be their preliminary think-tank, in which case they might now! :)

I agree with you it is highly unlikely to be considered viable, but not for the reasons you gave.  I can see the route being of interest to freight year-round, and I don't agree that it would only be viable to Cherbourg.  For a start, St Malo would be better placed for onward travel, but equally Roscoff must have some appeal.  The Cork service lands in Roscoff after all, so why not a Liverpool route.  And from what you say, an ordinary ferry should be able to make Liverpool-Roscoff in 19 hours, which means a Superfast like Cap Finistere could do it in 17 or 18.  But actually I wonder whether a French terminus in somewhere like St Nazaire might be a better idea, which should be reachable by a Superfast in around 21 hours I'd have thought?

But the reason it won't be viable as a business proposition is that the traffic it will generate will only take traffic away from the Portsmouth and Plymouth routes which can be operated more econimically.  Can't see much generation of new custom.

Edited by Gareth
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Well Gareth, I think you've resolved your own problem by using the two Superfasts you had reserved for another line. Stena can keep them and put one on Harwich-Hook to restart that service. The second can be tried out on a line from Liverpool-St Nazaire-Spain. This will offer the Scottish fish and shellfish producers a more direct line to the southern European markets as well as giving tourists from the North of the UK a more simple route to holiday destination in Spain and Portugal. As France and Spain are both in Schengen there should be no need for anybody going all the way through to get off and on again in St Nazaire heading south which simplifies things. Going north might be more complicated but if they use the existing facilities in Bilbao they can do the immigration check as normal, whether required or not. If they try it out from April to October in the first season and it doesn't work they can then switch the second Superfast to Harwich to join her sister on a two-vessel service. Ed

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I wonder if many of us northerners travel south to catch a ferry because we also find the trip to the south coast appealing regardless of the 3-4 hour travel time. In some ways it's part of the occasion and the anticipation of the holiday?

It's what many of our parents did.

As a child, helping my dad pack the trailer with camping gear, watching him affix the 'GB' sticker, the drive staring out of the rear window etc all added to the excitement and is now looked back on fondly. We loved it then and we love it still?

We travelled south last Friday teatime and slept overnight beside the check in lanes at PIP then watched NEX & BDS being fully loaded together with the Condor ferry being unloaded as we waited to board Normandie. We'll also do an overnighter at Ouistreham on Friday too.

For us it's all part of it and at no time feels like an inconvenience.

Would having a service from Liverpool (My hometown) feel like I'm missing out? Maybe. 

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Quote:- I wonder if many of us northerners travel south to catch a ferry because we also find the trip to the south coast appealing regardless of the 3-4 hour travel time. In some ways it's part of the occasion and the anticipation of the holiday?

It's what many of our parents did.

 

I still have vivid memories in the early sixties driving as a family from near Bristol to Dover, but back then it was an expedition taking something like 7 hours. Hardly any motorway, driving through the centre of London around midnight, down the Old Kent Road then eventually the M2 - it shows how times have changed....:$

 

Going back on topic, we've had a load of customers in this morning petrified by the thought of crossing back to Plymouth this afternoon with a 7 to force 9 predicted; nothing compared to a big Atlantic swell going past Lands End which a Liverpool service would entail. I've done it on the Oscar Wilde with an 8 metre swell a couple of years ago and it was interesting to say the least; at least the 8 coach loads of French schoolkids were nowhere to be seen.....:D

 

And I managed to keep dinner in the Bernavel restaurant down too!

 

Chris

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Personally I would pay to travel via a northern port and many do hence the Hull services are well patronised, which is why P & O keep 4 ships in service there. However the nearest I can get to France would be Zeebrugge, so still a long drive from near Leeds to the Vendee or further etc. I plan my drives north and south to try to minimise traffic and holdups!!..Plan a break enroute with a nice meal etc and try to make it part of the holiday.( Not the part going home obviously :S)..Travelling with BF, The Bretagne in particular, really does mean `handbrake on, doors open` and holiday begins :D after all BF is where France begins.

     On the nostalgia front I too remember the drives to Pompey with 2 excited lads in the back (as well as the one doing the driving) pulling a rather large `Tin Tent`..which was always heavier on the return, my lads thought it was a competition to see how much wine Dad could get into the back of it!!..Travelling along the M27 looking for the first sight of Duchesse Anne then Bretagne alongside, almost made the long journey worthwhile..Remember their slogan `Brittany Ferries The Holiday Fleet`..too true they were..

  Me and the Memsahib are retracing our steps this summer again via Bretagne and will remember some of the great family times and fun we had. Bretagne never let us down and for a while became part of our lives. Can`t say that about an Airbus can you????????

   

  

 

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  • 1 month later...

Maybe a different Port would make sense as looking back from Portsmouth daily sailings were in 90's early noughties:

2 x fast cats P&O x 2 trips

3 Le Havre

3 Cherbourg

3 Caen

1 Bilbao

1 St Malo

2 Ch Islands

 

Now we have:

1 Le Havre

1 or 2 Cherbourg

2 Ch Islands

3 Caen

1 St Malo

1 Bilbao/Santander

So quite a few less sailings so overkill before.

 

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Maybe overkill now, but those days were really before the serious arrival of the Low cost Airlines, which have had an enormous impact on the type and duration of holidays that people take. When P & O were in their pomp they provided serious price competition to BF, now they don`t of course. As I read forums round the internet I`m amazed (or maybe not) how many are prepared to drive a gazillion miles out of their way to get a cheap fare from Dover...The serious cheapskates save Tesco vouchers and travel for free on the Shuttle >:(

  Different ball game now and I think that the present routing choice from Portsmouth is better than could have been expected imo..Where the ferry industry sells itself short is failing to highlight the positives..Better reliability, better security than airports but much less obtrusive, emphasise no luggage, liquids, manicure sets or scissor restrictions etc. The ability to be entertained with live music and eat in a wide variety of eateries with prices to match and much more.

  Imagine, if you will, that someone with the drive of O`Leary was running Brittany Ferries ...now what sort of a business would it be then??

  

Edited by Paully
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42 minutes ago, Paully said:

The serious cheapskates save Tesco vouchers and travel for free on the Shuttle >:( ...

 ... Where the ferry industry sells itself short is failing to highlight the positives..Better reliability, better security than airports but much less obtrusive, emphasise no luggage, liquids, manicure sets or scissor restrictions etc...

 ... Imagine, if you will, that someone with the drive of O`Leary was running Brittany Ferries ...now what sort of a business would it be then??

  

"Cheapskates"? Wow! For many years my family and I travelled on the cheapest routes so that we had more to spend on arrival. Now that we are more comfortable financially, the longer crossings are usually worthwhile. We weren't cheapskates, just thrifty, because there was no choice.

Strange you should decry the short crossing "bus services" yet find yourself interested in Michael O'Leary as a potential cruise ferry boss. He runs Ryanair just like the short crossing boys run their companies: fill the vessel, sell 'em everything and anything, keep it simple, run on time; and absolutely no frills. You surely don't want BF to be run on such lines, do you?

I certainly agree with your list of the advantages of sea crossings, but they do work out a lot dearer than a couple of return fares on Ryanair and the like. My daughter told me the other day that she'd found return flights to Toulouse from Birmingham or Manchester at £78. I'd have to multiply that by ten (-ish) to go Bilbao-Portsmouth with the car.

It's courses for horses, and we sometimes fly and sometimes go BF or Dieppe-Newhaven. I much prefer the ferry (esp BF mainly for the decent food), but for the £800 it costs, cheapskates like me can get a decent short package holiday!

What would be interesting is if such a Ryanair-style company were set up to compete with BF on the western Channel. Would the "cheapskates" turn away from BF to go cattle-class? Would BF have a more "downmarket" approach?

Last point ... I think it's great that people can exchange their Tesco vouchers for transport. Living in France, I wish that the loyalty cards I have for the shops here offered a similar scheme.

Edited by Jardinier
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1 hour ago, Paully said:

Hmm..you`ve obviously missed the humour....My comment was firmly tongue in cheek...no offences meant, just a bit of Sunday morning giggle..no more no less :D

Well, yes, possibly. Or possibly the humour did not emerge strongly enough.

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