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Should Stena Line come back to the Channel?

Should Stena Line come back to the Channel?  

48 members have voted

  1. 1. Should Stena Line return to the Western Channel?

    • Yes
      26
    • No
      7
    • Not Stena, but another
      2


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In the light of the alleged need for additional capacity outside of Dover-Calais and recurring chatter about declining standards on Brittany Ferries, perhaps due to being the sole Western Channel operator to France, is it overdue for Stena Line to return?

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Yes.  Somebody needs to come back to the Western Channel to mount some credible competition for BF.  BF's standards have suffered for going so long without having to pitch themselves against competition, and I think BF's own game would be upped if it was there.

As far as "who" is concerned, it has to be a credible outfit that could hit the ground with its reputation already established.  DFDS's credibility on the Western Channel was tarnished by the LD saga, and P&O's reputation has been in self-destruct mode for years.  So only Stena has the capacity to move into the region in a sustainable way that BF would not be able to see off by just running against them with their own service.

As far as route is concerned, it has to be Cherbourg.  Cherbourg is where the major gap in provision is, and Stena already operates to Cherbourg (from Ireland).  More up for discussion would be the UK terminus.  Four options - Portsmouth is the obvious one, but very congested and BF is already sort-of operating that route (though not in a serious way).  Poole is obviously already BF territory, and Weymouth is no longer a ferry port.  Portland probably doesn't yet have the infrastructure to support a regular serious service.  So a revival of their route from Southampton might be an interesting prospect.  The longer passage would be more in keeping with Stena's style of route, and they'd get three sailings per day per ship whether using Southampton or Portsmouth.  Free choice of berthing availability at Southampton, and terminal probably only about 10 minutes drive from the end of the M3.

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But you are then up against all the previously rehearsed objections to Cherbourg, mainly the need to drive all the way down the peninsula before you hit the main road network.

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59 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

'What’s wrong with a nice Southampton to St Malo service?

Nothing, except commercially it would never happen. Any route would likely need to have a freight bias to make it viable all year around.

Totally agree @Gareth, it's time for something serious rather than these pie-in-sky made up fantasies... Ramsgate-Ostend with no ships, Ramsgate-Boulogne on a fast ferry, all complete nonsense.

But yes Cherbourg would seem the most logical since there is already (double-deck) linkspan capacity and the port is underused. A versatile ship like Stena Nordica could run two return trips a day from Portsmouth, Stena Normandy used to it from Southampton, and realistically looking at a 4 h 45 m crossing. If it were the old Pride of Cherbourg (ex Isle of Innisfree), Stena Normandy or Barfleur on two returns a day, she'd get into Portsmouth after the Caen ship leaves at night and in the day fills a gap when the double deck linkspan is empty. Pros are high vessel utilisation and they already have a base there so it's a relatively fast set up, the con is it's Cherbourg but priced right for freight and it has potential. PIP isn't going to scoff at an operator like Stena coming along to sign a port contract, they're hardly fantasists like Seaborne or even LD Lines.

Opportunities for Western Channel growth could be via the port at Le Havre which is huge, before the current ferry terminal was built and Irish Ferries moved to the old one, they used to be further out in the harbour, with a single deck floating pontoon linkspan that is a possibility. The two Birkenhead-Belfast ships are due off when the 2nd and 3rd E-Flexers come in so they could do a more leisurely Portsmouth - Le Havre service necessitating only single deck linkspans at both ports and longer turnarounds. One ship could essentially replicate what Etretrat does now and the other mirrors it; I seem to recall that is what was envisaged for Norland and Norstar when there was talk of P&O moving them onto the route.

Conscious I'm starting to drift into fantasy...

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Well, the whole thread is fantasy as neither Stena nor any other established operator has any plans to open routes in the Western Channel (as far as I know).  But that doesn’t stop it being a legitimate discussion of a fair question.

I agree with Seashore about Le Havre too, that is the other port that is under-used and where there is scope for significant expansion.  BF’s effort is very token.  A full operation to both Cherbourg and Le Havre, along the lines that used to be provided by Townsend Thorsesen (before P&O ruined it) would be very welcome.

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Stena Line certainly has the know-how and the ships. The two current vessels on Birkenhead-Belfast will soon be available, as has been mentioned, so it will be interesting to see where they end up. Personally i'd like to see Stena have more of a presence both in the Channel and also on the North Sea.

Edited by Ryan_H
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And would Stena honour all those Compass Points accumulated between Southampton and Cherbourg that they persuaded us that there was no rush to use them up, because they 'would be valid on the soon to be launched HSS service on the route'? Some hope!!! Motto. Never Trust a Corporate.

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12 minutes ago, Khaines said:

How do you vote on this topic - voting is greyed out for some reason...  But for the record I would say yes.

Probably because you appear to have already voted.....if you look at the list of people who have voted "yes", you are on it! 😀

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Competition is always a good thing and I would like to see another serious operator out of Portsmouth. But I fear that a few weeks of good money in the summer will not outweigh the long winter months of one man and a dog leisure traffic and freight at whatever rates you can get  in the minds of anybody who might consider working here. 

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The linkspan on the Ichen is owned by a freight company now. Is there another area in Southampton which could accommodate a new berth and the associated structures needed?

If Poole stepped up it's ideally placed to offer a St Malo, possibly Cherbourg or even a Caen crossing. None of these are exclusive to BF and the area around the new quay in Poole harbour has been extensively worked on to increase hard standing.

St Malo... very light on freight, I doubt another carrier would find this attractive outside of May, June & July and would possibly lose money if the tonnage increased.

Cherbourg... is a bit of weird one. The group that own them want this port to focus on renewable energy and they receive gvt subsidies to do it. With I.F pulling out of the alternate summer sailings to Roscoff and wanting to off load a dedicated French bound ship, maybe the need isn't there.

My choice would be Poole-Caen. From the outside, for me, this seems to be the most realistic as it's the more viable freight route and linkspan time is good due to the quick turnarounds of MSM & Normandie.

The port are increasing their hardstanding footprint and increasing berth size to accommodate Honfleur - which will also mean less pax capacity giving a further opportunity for another carrier to gain a foothold.

Stena Lagan or Mersey would be easily accommodated at Poole and would also be able to use the extended berth at Caen once finished. Stena could also utilise Etretat once returned.

Le Havre? I don't know. BF have pulled NEX from there and will be reducing freight capacity when Normandie relocates. I doubt an E-flexer would fit once the one supposedly replacing BDS and her timetable finally arrives in 2 years.

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Poole to Caen is a no go as it would not make economic or commercial sense. Poole is too much to the west and Caen too much to the east to work logically together in terms of where traffic in the UK originates from and where it is going to in France. Also distance wise too long for a shuttle like route in terms of number of rotations per day.

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Plus unfortunately there is no longer the capacity in the market for a second western Channel operator. A  competitor would dramatically erode Brittany Ferries profit margins.

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1 hour ago, Gareth said:

Probably because you appear to have already voted.....if you look at the list of people who have voted "yes", you are on it! 😀

Strange, enclosing a screenshot, you can see the members who have voted has been greyed out so doesn’t do anything if I click on it - when was the poll created, only just seen it this morning, and went to vote but couldn’t so how I have already voted is a mystery as I couldn’t get anything to work to let me vote.  I clicked on yes, but nothing happened!  Weird....🤔

4B572916-2247-4FCC-AB6C-3850418B4636.png

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If you are able to see the current tally of votes then I think that means you have already voted. Until you do so the results are not displayed so as not to sway your opinion. Ed. 

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I`ve voted without a problem and now see the voting reulsts so far..If you havent already done so, maybe log out of the site and try logging back in to clear whatever is causing the trouble?

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18 minutes ago, georgem7 said:

I have the same problem as Khaines. I haven't voted but it doesn't let me vote. What Khaines sees is all I can see. 

You've voted yes too George! :) :

 

Capture.PNG

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14 minutes ago, Nick Hyde said:

Poole to Caen is a no go as it would not make economic or commercial sense. Poole is too much to the west and Caen too much to the east to work logically together in terms of where traffic in the UK originates from and where it is going to in France. Also distance wise too long for a shuttle like route in terms of number of rotations per day.

On the outside is does look that way but further delving shows there's hardly any difference in the nautical mileage between starting at Poole or Portsmouth, both are roughly a 5-6 hour crossings. Further, a possible obstacle found in where traffic originates in the UK or where it's going in France doesn't seem to hold much value when we consider  HMG's urge to grant BF near on £50m to increase sailings to support a freight backlog in Dover as far west as Plymouth.

The main lucrative road freight lines by sea into France from the UK surround four injection points, Calais, Le Havre. Dieppe & Caen. Most of this is headed for Rouen, Rennes & Orléans. Routes into the UK are also seeing fundamental changes. There's a new chilled distribution hub in Kent which handles over 25% of temperature controlled food entering the UK regardless of which port of entry is used along the east and central coastlines and formed much of the reasoning why Portsmouth saw an established fruiterer relocate a couple of years ago... In the future Tilbury has been earmarked as becoming a new major dedicated hub too.

The latter of these does add weight to your argument as sea borne freight heading north across the channel which is popular with date sensitive transport could very quickly become more locally focused. This of course would have a negative effect on BF in the long term but would surely make any newcomer stop and think prior to investing in any of the routes.

Again though looking at them all and having spent a fair bit of time mooching around the planned expansions and specialisations all of the UK ports have in the pipeline, some of which I've tried to highlight in the past on the forum, for me the only southern UK port which could offer reasonable space logistically would be Poole which in turn would only offer realistic routes time wise to Cherbourg or Caen.

In this new regulated world we live in I think one of the main obstacles for Poole is port location due to the crackdown on land based fossil fuel emissions and noise pollution which is the cause of most of the speed restrictions which flash on the numerous overhead gantries which cover our motorway network. It also the reason why BF are investing in Spain as these new emission regulations will effect much of the freight which transits through France which will effect the profitability of all of the carriers using the French channel coast.

In all probability your 2nd post hits the nail on the head. 

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52 minutes ago, Gareth said:

You've voted yes too George! :) :

 

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Two years ago, blimey - first comment was from Seashore less than a day ago.  Doesn’t show the date of the poll...😄

Edited by Khaines

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Jonno I think point is that Poole is 112 miles from London and other main population centres and Portsmouth  is only 70 miles. Plus the distance is 13% longer in miles from Poole to Caen as it is Portsmouth to Caen and of course the Hampshire port has vastly superior road connections. No company will ever offer a Poole to Caen passenger service.

Edited by Nick Hyde
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