Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Seashore

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


Recommended Posts

They should be another ferry company running out of Portsmouth to Cherbourg.  And Stena Line could be the one who would do it.   I must be honest since P&O stopped running out of Portsmouth some years ago.  I have completely loss interested in them.  Unlike Brittany ferries who do take a interest in their routes and have ferries built for those routes.  With P&O when they  chartered ferries, which were not ideal for those routes.  That was their downfall.  When they had chartered the Isle of Innisfree from Irish ferries. And she was the only ferry that was running out of Portsmouth.  For many day trippers to Cherbourg,  she wasn't ideal at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, P&O’s strategic decisions at Portsmouth were very poor.  As you say, the whole P&O Portsmouth fleet was chartered tonnage that was not suitable for the routes.  The Le Havre pair actually outlasted Pride of Cherbourg, which was the first to go.  Pity there were never proper successors to the Super Vikings - but perhaps blame for that could be considered to go back onto Townsend Thoresen times. They lost their way in the mid-80s strategically, after the unexpected death of Keith Wickenden.  One of the products of which was an obsession with horrendous jumboisation of ships rather than building the next generation of ferries. So the Portsmouth operation was already behind on development by the time P&O took over.  And P&O did nothing to make matters any better.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Gareth said:

Oh, that's odd.  Just noticed the dates!  You both voted almost 2 years ago....that's ingenious! :D

I haven’t voted nor seen the thread until now, but greyed out suggesting I’ve voted. Is there a software bug? 

 

Anyway are we talking economically or just fantasy? 

It will make no economical sense, and like the bus industry in most areas any competition would be commercial suicide.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Nick Hyde said:

Hampshire port has vastly superior road connections.

That it does and the Hindhead tunnel was a game changer. I've spent a fair bit of time in the past stuck in a jam coming down the hill around the Devils Punchbowl. 

Yeah you're right, the business isn't there no matter how positive a spin a try to put on it and move the goalposts.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, richwarwicker said:

It will make no economical sense, and like the bus industry in most areas any competition would be commercial suicide.

What would happen in a No-Deal Brexit scenario if the British government were to effectively subsidise an operator until such time as they were able to survive unaided? If that then allowed them to reduce fares while offering a similar level of service, an alternative to BF's monopoly on the routes and a secure freight link that would be the 'third' alternative to BF and DFDS, would it not make commercial sense for Stena (or another operator) to try? I assume that if a Brexit deal is reached then European subsidy rules would probably not allow such assistance and we'd still have to abide by them. Ed. 

Edited by Cabin-boy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

LD never tried a Portsmouth-Dieppe route did they?  Any mileage in putting that one on the table for consideration?  For Midlands traffic heading for Central Europe, bypassing both London and Paris.

(Although, I suppose, that’s really what Harwich - Rotterdam / Zeebrugge would be for).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Cabin-boy said:

What would happen in a No-Deal Brexit scenario if the British government were to effectively subsidise an operator until such time as they were able to survive unaided? If that then allowed them to reduce fares while offering a similar level of service, an alternative to BF's monopoly on the routes and a secure freight link that would be the 'third' alternative to BF and DFDS, would it not make commercial sense for Stena (or another operator) to try? I assume that if a Brexit deal is reached then European subsidy rules would probably not allow such assistance and we'd still have to abide by them. Ed. 

Even under UK rules public funded subsidies aren’t allowed when there is a fully commercial competitor. Assuming said rule applies to ferries as it does every other industry.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, richwarwicker said:

Even under UK rules public funded subsidies aren’t allowed when there is a fully commercial competitor. Assuming said rule applies to ferries as it does every other industry.

Would that still apply if said competitor were based outside the UK and in a country with which we had no current economic agreement? Ed. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some thoughts:

The only French port that makes sense IMHO is Ouistreham, which would have capacity (both hardstanding and linkspan / berthing) between the two daytime BF services. I'm not sure that – given drivers' hours regs – Cherbourg would be feasible.

At the UK end, capacity could probably be found at Portsmouth, which as noted above has good road connections to both the London area and elsewhere. 

The big advantage is that neither of these ports would require advance preparatory capital investment. A "known-brand" operator – such as Stena or DFDS, with an existing base of freight customers – could be up and running comparatively quickly and at low cost – essentially a marketing campaign and local customer service staff.

A large-scale retail marketing campaign would obviously be needed, but I think an incoming operator would have to work on product differentiation from BF. 

Price competition would be tricky. Is the port capacity available at both ends to permit two round trips per day? One sailing a day would hardly be economical.

If not, what other options? One sailing to Caen and one to Le Havre – if berthing capacity exists already? Crossing times would be similar – but could either Le Havre or Ouistreham accommodate an overnight crossing from the UK? 

I mentioned DFDS as a potential operator despite its failure to develop the Le Havre route post LD. But it is a a big operator, and if the short-sea ports become congested, might it be interested in a western route again?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My understanding is that afternoon sailings from France and night sailings from the UK are the most popular, the double deck linkspan is in use in Ouistreham at these times.

In the context of an alternative to Failing Grayling's Seaborne Freight and in readiness for Brexit, it would have to be an operator who exists and is ready (like Stena) who already have an established base in France (Cherbourg) and already sail to the UK. To get a reasonable number of crossings to make it viable, appealing and have sufficient ship utilisation, I would have thought that 2x returns a day would be a requisite and given that freight - whatever the Brexit outcome - is what sustains most Channel services continually to the same level year-round then Portsmouth to Cherbourg would be the most feasible option.

You simple can't get two returns in to Le Havre, Ouistreham and Dieppe from Portsmouth.

A ship like Stena Nordica is double deck, according to Wikipedia has 1,949 lane metres (MSM is not a huge amount more). Her passenger certificate of 450 passengers and 222 cabin berths, plus reclining seats, doesn't make her a big people carrier like Stena Normandy was, but Stena Normandy couldn't carry enough freight which is what I recall was the stated downfall of the route because they had to back her up with another ship.

Realistically, could do something akin to Barfleur's original timetable, that of Stena Normandy on double trips and Pride of Cherbourg which fits in with when the "Ouistreham ship" linkspan is vacant at Portsmouth, assuming a BF Le Havre ship is still in:

Portsmouth dep 23:59 - Cherbourg arr 06:00
Cherbourg dep 07:15 - Portsmouth arr 11:00
Portsmouth dep 12:15 - Cherbourg arr 18:00
Cherbourg dep 19:15 - Portsmouth arr 23:00

BF use the linkspan at Portsmouth from 06:45-08:15, 13:15-14:4, 19:15-22:00 or 21:15-22:45

Not the world's most attractive times but it uses the existing infrastructure, sorts the ex-UK overnight and evening from Cherbourg (leaving marginally after Barfleur).

Back in the 90s you had Brittany Ferries, P&O European Ferries and Stena Line all competing in the Western Channel, I'd have though competition and choice is always a good thing in most circumstances, back then in a different age there was perhaps too much and the competition gradually faded as Stena Line left: P&O were only interested in Dover and LD was a complete basket case shifting from one strategy to the next.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Seashore said:

Portsmouth dep 23:59 - Cherbourg arr 06:00
Cherbourg dep 07:15 - Portsmouth arr 11:00
Portsmouth dep 12:15 - Cherbourg arr 18:00
Cherbourg dep 19:15 - Portsmouth arr 23:00

Those are really short turn around times. I think only NEX can do it in an hour but never actually does as they always build some leeway into the timings in case of delays. Ed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Seashore

Is Cherbourg a realistic option for freight? What will it add to typical truck drivers' hours and truck emissions?

But I appreciate your timings.

Just one question: could you shift the cycle by about 30min, so that on days when the Caen overnight departure is earlier, so is your sailing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On a double deck ro-ro you could turn around fast. Barfleur used to do it, Dover-Calais does it. I did think giving 75 mins turnaround was generous (being an armchair expert lol!), did initially put down 60 mins and got the overnight arriving at 06:45 as the Caen ships do (there is only a 60 min at Portsmouth at night to allow for the slightly longer sailing), but my impression is most freight drivers want to be on the road getting somewhere.

I don’t think it would be possible to go earlier on a Weds when MSM does an early Portsmouth turnaround, just not enough capacity in the timetable or speed on the ship. I also thought that consistency might be valuable, if you knew the ship left everyday at midnight there’s no schedules to double check before booking.

I’m not really sure of what Cherbourg does to emissions or driving hours - although it’s less time at sea and less of that ghastly gunk being burnt by the ship (the toxic scrubber water has to go somewhere!) per crossing. Cherbourg isn’t that bad - considering BF are using it as one of the three Brexit contract routes (now Roscoff is talking about “out of the way”), BF run NEX solely there now albeit that’s for passengers.

Theoretically, if demand were such, Stena Horizon spends from 08:15 on a Monday until 21:30 on Tuesday in Rosslare every week. It would mean adjusting the Rosslare-Cherbourg route but there could be an argument to get in some additional start of week Cherbourg-Portsmouth crossings for freight (and passengers). I’m surprised they don’t actually already do something with Stena Horizon (although sure someone will have a better reason why not, obviously not running to Fishguard as it’s in general decline and I believe Horizon is too long for Fishguard).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First thing that sprung to mine for me was using Southampton, for an enthusiast point of view travelling out of the Solent to Cherbourg/St Malo?Le havre or Caen would be simply majestic!

I personally would love to see a revival in the port of Boulogne also.

Edited by Le Quiberon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last week we had a week in Holland / Belgium, travelling overnight Arijaba / Hook on the big Stena boats. The cabins make BF look like punishment cells, and the catering is pretty fair. Not so Gallic as BF but still quite adequate. But I hate to think what the balance sheet looks like for that run, both coming and going very lightly loaded. But having a proper night's sleep is rather nice ....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, veryoldbear said:

Last week we had a week in Holland / Belgium, travelling overnight Arijaba / Hook on the big Stena boats. The cabins make BF look like punishment cells, and the catering is pretty fair. Not so Gallic as BF but still quite adequate. But I hate to think what the balance sheet looks like for that run, both coming and going very lightly loaded. But having a proper night's sleep is rather nice ....

BF cabins have always been a little compact. I found some of the Etretat cabins larger than comparible cabins on real BF ships.
Looking at the new Irish vessel, they seem to have a large number of different types of cabins, and rather a broad array of "de luxe" options, perhaps overkill for the routes. I wonder what Honfleur top-end cabins will be like in comparison. I suppose they cannot make them vastly different to the rest of the fleet.. something which Irish don't really have to worry about as much.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, veryoldbear said:

Last week we had a week in Holland / Belgium, travelling overnight Arijaba / Hook on the big Stena boats. The cabins make BF look like punishment cells, and the catering is pretty fair. Not so Gallic as BF but still quite adequate. But I hate to think what the balance sheet looks like for that run, both coming and going very lightly loaded. But having a proper night's sleep is rather nice ....

I'd have to disagree, the food is very average, passenger space is very limited and sleep is 'grab it while you can'. They're basically 8 deck freight carriers and the only aspect which separates them from a Visentini is the cabins.

I doubt we'll see another carrier competing on the western channel, most importantly they don't have the ships but over the years they've all had the chance to put their hands in their pockets to match BF's quality and service level, they simply won't do it.

Neither Stena, P&O or DFDS would spend anywhere near BF's €200m on a short sea RoPax, IF won't even spend that on their flagship.

Stena don't have anything to match MSM nor do DFDS. Armorique is only a year older than the Harwich Stena's and she's far more stylish.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, jonno said:

I'd have to disagree, the food is very average, passenger space is very limited and sleep is 'grab it while you can'. They're basically 8 deck freight carriers and the only aspect which separates them from a Visentini is the cabins.

I doubt we'll see another carrier competing on the western channel, most importantly they don't have the ships but over the years they've all had the chance to put their hands in their pockets to match BF's quality and service level, they simply won't do it.

Neither Stena, P&O or DFDS would spend anywhere near BF's €200m on a short sea RoPax, IF won't even spend that on their flagship.

Stena don't have anything to match MSM nor do DFDS. Armorique is only a year older than the Harwich Stena's and she's far more stylish.

 

I agree with you. I travelled on Stena Hollandica mid-february. Yes the cabins are excellent and good value but the rest of the ship is no different to Motorway services with below average (but still expensive) food offering. I had dinner in the Metropolitan and it was really underwhelming, pricey and noisy. With hindsight I should have opted for a bowl of Bitterballen and a pint in the bar.

The experience onboard BF is far better except for the cabins of course.

I will be using both Stena ships next week with a Rail & Sail fare for a business trip to Belgium. I am looking forward to good night sleeps onboard.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like it’s not just the aggressive approach to “occupying” the route slots, but also the maintaining of standards, that  is preserving BF’s western-channel dominance.  If the reason other operators won’t move in to the sector is because they cannot match BF’s offering then (a) that is market forces doing their job, and (b) that gives BF every incentive to preserve those standards.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 14/02/2019 at 18:05, Seashore said:

Portsmouth dep 23:59 - Cherbourg arr 06:00
Cherbourg dep 07:15 - Portsmouth arr 11:00
Portsmouth dep 12:15 - Cherbourg arr 18:00
Cherbourg dep 19:15 - Portsmouth arr 23:00

That is pretty much P&O's last conventional timetable with the Pride of Cherbourg (III) as they had to fit around BF times on Berth 4 in Portsmouth because Berth 3 hadn't been rebuilt at that point and it contributed to a significant fall in their passenger numbers and the freight drivers hated the overnight sailing as it was shorter than the Super Viking times.

Though emulating what was a successful at the time Poole-Cherbourg timetable the Portsmouth market did not like it, they didn't even like the 1300 Portsmouth-Cherbourg with Barfleur in 2005 which ended up as an ideal way to have a ship pretty much all to yourself in the middle of summer, yet had it been 1230 ex Poole it would have been very busy.

I'd be all for Stena returning to the Channel. To compete against BF it needs to be someone big, interested in the market and with financial clout and Stena would be the only operator that could be all three if they ever fancied it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 23/03/2019 at 19:19, hf_uk said:

BF cabins have always been a little compact. I found some of the Etretat cabins larger than comparible cabins on real BF ships.
Looking at the new Irish vessel, they seem to have a large number of different types of cabins, and rather a broad array of "de luxe" options, perhaps overkill for the routes. I wonder what Honfleur top-end cabins will be like in comparison. I suppose they cannot make them vastly different to the rest of the fleet.. something which Irish don't really have to worry about as much.

It’s worth remembering that the top priced cabin on WBY is €899 one way to France.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...