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jonno

New Dover Strait Tonnage for P&O.

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Janette Bell has recently announced that two £150m new vessels are to be built to serve the Dover-Calais route from 2021.

Those I've spoken to with a better understanding of their operations believe they are to replace European Seaway and Pride of Burgundy. It's also understood that when the new builds arrive P&O's fleet will be reduced to four.

Locally it's also been hinted that P&O are reviewing their onboard facilities which have been quite severely cut back in recent years.

 

 

Edited by jonno

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That also sounds like a replacement of the Kent and Canterbury?

Having been on the Burgundy last week, the sooner it goes the better... the Red Funnel ships out of Southampton would make for a more enjoyable crossing.

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4 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

Sounds like they are going down the Wightlink route. Fewer ships with the same overall capacity and presumably fewer sailings.

The opposite of what the route needs then!

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Yes, customer convenience taking second place to cutting costs. Funny thing is that the airlines are heading in the opposite direction with more smaller long haul aircraft in place of the 747/A380 planes to give extra flexibility.

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Smaller ships that will be easier to fill, that can cope with turnarounds, don’t take forever and a day to load and unload, and provide round-the clock frequent sailings with lots of choice.  “Turn up and go” has been the philosophy behind the Dover Straits ever since the Tunnel opened.  Was seen back then as the only way of sustaining a viable ferry service out of Dover once the Tunnel became an option.  Also the reason why Folkestone and Boulogne closed.

Reducing the frequency of sailing and operating ships that take 2 hours to turn round seems to fly in the face of all that.  But, then again, P&O lost the plot years ago.

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This news is essentially what's written in the new edition of FCR which arrived, with me at least, today.

If P&O genuinely do want to go back upmarket then that should be A Good Thing but they need to put their money where their mouth is - yes stop being so tight on every overhead and customer benefit and yes stop closing half the ships off for much of the day and much of the year. But also stop skimping on visible maintenance - the amount of rust on deck outside and yellow safety tape on floors inside is astonishing at times, and not just around refit time.

Edited by hhvferry
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Freight movements are enjoying record figures which also show increases through Q1, Q2 and now Q3 of 2018 but passenger numbers at Dover are falling as they are on all  but three channel routes (Plymouth-Roscoff, Poole Cherbourg & PIP-St Malo.) Dover are down by 1m since December 2016. 

Both Dover routes carried a combined 12.1m pax in 2016, 11.7m in 2017. The projection update by the dft on the 11th July indicates a total of just over 11m.

Does it mean that by the time P&O's new ships arrive these figures will be around 10m?

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2 hours ago, Danish Ferry Person said:

With DFDS operating 6 vessels out of Dover, is there really demand for another 6 from P&O? I'm guessing P&O may be feeling the pressure from DFDS, hence the decision to reduce the fleet size once they get the new builds? 

Economies of scale. The two Spirits can carry the same amount of vehicles as the three DFDS ships which sail to Calais. Three ex Maersk vessels which sail to Dunkerque only have a combined car capacity of 600.

DFDS have a total car capacity of 2700 covering six ships. P&O have 2800 using three.

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If they upgrade to bigger boats say 20% more than the current Spirit of Britain and France with new Prides of Dover and Calais to take advantage of the large new Port being built in Calais, it makes perfect sense dropping to four boats. The onboard service crew moved over to larger vessels would better support increased passengers numbers per vessel because no one likes seeing facilities cordoned off at peak periods. Losing Seniors Officers, Deck Crew and Engineers would be a loss of Quality jobs in East Kent fro. merging four boats into two but it will lower costs bringing maybe lower ticket prices. They could automate the booths at Dover and Calais for cars like the Tunnel did a few years back also to save money with API, physical staff is a bit wasteful in resource. 

My only fear would be French Strikes and Bad weather because when that happens Dover gets really behind and with six boats P&O take a long time to get back to schedule and clear the backlog, with just four...?

The Seaway, Burgundy, Canterbury and Kent will be about 30 years old by the time these two new super ferries are built. Two had major upgrades to change Pathway and Highway from Freight only to what is now the Kent and Canterbury but after 30 years I could see Seaway and Burgundy going for scrap. Canterbury and Kent could be sold to Mediterranean operator or simply kept and moved on to less intensive routes as extra capacity or relief boats during maintenance of the regular fleet. The Seaway has only ever been Freight so I have never been on her but the Burgundy really has been the Rust bucket of the high seas for last decade, it actually pains me to see the woeful investment in that boat as taking my Wife and three young kids on her proved to be the longest 90 minutes of my life, tetanus running through my mind as the kids played in an excuse for a play area... Canterbury and Kent got their upgrades almost two decades ago so a journey on them is comfortable but feels like a supersize Cafeteria. This said all four of the boats had been built for DOV to ZEE run and a different era so for most of their life time they have been run on a route they had not been built to do and I commend P&O for their effort but it is time for these boats to move on and get a new product on the DOV to CAL run.  

I live in Belgium now for almost 14 years and from start of Norfolkline (DFDS) new boats I became a Dunkirk only fanboy being a quieter Port, it was only the Britain and France that made me come back to P&O so if they want Passengers they have to invest. The Tunnel refuses to invest aside from upgrading terminal buildings, finding a functioning toilet on their trains when you have three kids is something that makes me avoid Eurotunnel and book the Boats as often as practical.

Clearly in a post Brexit world the capacity across the channel will need to be reviewed. DFDS ships originally did their run to Dunkirk in 90 minutes, today it has been changed to 120 to conserve fuel but if your loading more freight because of less capacity into Dover both P&O can speed up and do more per day as SeaFrance did.

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90 minutes?  Really?  That’s extraordinary - especially as the old Sealink service used to take 2h 20m (albeit including having to lock in/out at Dover), and Calais takes 90 minutes.  Even the fastest service to Calais used to take 75 minutes, and that was at 24 knots by the Blue Riband trio.  Dunkerque West is more than 15 minutes beyond Calais, surely?  I’d be amazed if Dover-Dunkerque ever took just 90 minutes, and I have no recollection of it having done so, but then again you were a regular user so it’s not for me to quibble.  Amazing if that was true.

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1 hour ago, Gareth said:

90 minutes?  Really?  That’s extraordinary - especially as the old Sealink service used to take 2h 20m (albeit including having to lock in/out at Dover), and Calais takes 90 minutes.  Even the fastest service to Calais used to take 75 minutes, and that was at 24 knots by the Blue Riband trio.  Dunkerque West is more than 15 minutes beyond Calais, surely?  I’d be amazed if Dover-Dunkerque ever took just 90 minutes, and I have no recollection of it having done so, but then again you were a regular user so it’s not for me to quibble.  Amazing if that was true.

Was intrigued by this so just had a pleasant journey down memory lane flicking through some brochures. Sealink after moving to the new port at Dunkerque did indeed take 2h20m - before that it was 3h45m with a longer journey and faffing around at both ends.

The Norfolkline route was always scheduled for 2 hours with the racehorses but some very early promotional material suggests the three D class ships would reduce that to 1h45m. But their introductory pack already had this pegged back at 2 hours (Norfolkline were actually very cagey about stating crossing times as it was never going to be a competitive advantage. Only departure times are stated in the timetable but the main blurb regularly states, "Dunkerque, just two hours from Dover".)

In summary, 90 minutes was never regularly scheduled; pier to pier it might be about that but it did look like they wanted to trim 15 off it when the D's were introduced but this was never actually built into the schedule once they were delivered.

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How much longer does it take to turnaround a Spirit than a Pride?

The last time I did the straits was in 2012 (Calais to Dover on a Spirit). This was an unscheduled trip paid for by BF as we couldn't use Armorique due industrial relations. We did a booze cruise the previous year on one of the Darwins / and a Spirit. For the length of the crossing we found all the ships to be well suited.  I certainly don't recall being bowled over my MSM in comparison (other than increased deck space) when we used it three years ago.

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I don't think it takes much longer - the car decks on both are pretty straightforward, and it's very rare for them to be at maximum capacity.

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