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1 hour ago, David Williams said:

I don’t understand the logic of a driver being paid to do nothing for a day. Owner operators don’t have a choice, but international freight companies do, 

Hence, the logic of the Rail Bridge. Local driver takes trailer to Rosslare or UK port. Shipped unaccompanied to Cherbourg, transferred to rail, and local driver picks the trailer up at Spanish border.

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One season the port of Arromanches did have 2.5 million passengers and 500,000 vehicles.

I think we all make the mistake in not appreciating the ways and means. A port may have excellent facilities but if the access and approaches are limited HGV's and holiday traffic will look elsewhere.

Yeah, the French BFenthusiasts website has been on strike from about 5 minutes before it went live. And that was 15 years ago. Ed. 

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Yes, I can see the attraction to the hauliers in shipping unaccompanied freight.  It’s more awkward to handle for the ferry companies of course - Pelican take 6 hours to turn round between each sailing.

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20 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Yes, I can see the attraction to the hauliers in shipping unaccompanied freight.  It’s more awkward to handle for the ferry companies of course - Pelican take 6 hours to turn round between each sailing.

Could this be where the Poole port rail link comes into it's own?

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44 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Yes, I can see the attraction to the hauliers in shipping unaccompanied freight.  It’s more awkward to handle for the ferry companies of course - Pelican take 6 hours to turn round between each sailing.

Exactly why the BF business model is at risk, ropax relies on fast turnaround, it is amusing seeing the speed of the tugs on the trailers, however it is a fraction of the throughput that lorries with drivers can do. Efficient ships and ports aimed at trailers and/or containers is surely the future - the Cherbourg investment looks sensible.

ps it is interesting that the Irish Hauliers asked for Cherbourg and not Le Havre - It can't just be for the wine.

Edited by David Williams
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22 minutes ago, David Williams said:

ps it is interesting that the Irish Hauliers asked for Cherbourg and not Le Havre - It can't just be for the wine.

I was thinking that too.  And also that it’s interesting they requested Cherbourg ahead of St Malo.  St Malo would have been deliverable by BF - probably a similar crossing time or maybe an hour more - and St Malo is probably closer than Cherbourg to almost any destination for onward traffic.  (Especially for traffic that previously routed via Roscoff).

I guess Cherbourg is where the freight infrastructure is.  St Malo not really suitable as a major freight hub.  And Cherbourg integrates with the services provided by the other operators too.

As far as Le Havre is concerned, it may simply not have been on the table as a practical option.  (Especially if BF know secretly that they are going to be pulling out of the port come November).  The old ICL route used to have a 21 hour passage time.  Ships are, if anything, a little slower than they used to be and passage times tend to be a bit more conservative.  So to continue to be able to operate a rotation every 48 hours with a ship, turnarounds at Le Havre would probably have to be scheduled for less than 3 hours, which is probably too tight for ships of modern-day capacity.  Especially as longer routes tend to like to have a bit of leeway built for late running these days.

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29 minutes ago, David Williams said:

it is interesting that the Irish Hauliers asked for Cherbourg and not Le Havre - It can't just be for the wine.

Could it just be the extra linkspans at Cherbourg makes it easier to fit extra sailings in.

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39 minutes ago, David Williams said:

ps it is interesting that the Irish Hauliers asked for Cherbourg and not Le Havre - It can't just be for the wine.

It may be that the were given a choice of Cherbourg or Roscoff  , and La Havre was not in consideration  .

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5 minutes ago, Chef said:

It may be that the were given a choice of Cherbourg or Roscoff  , and La Havre was not in consideration  .

Yes I agree, I suspect it was not on the table as an option.

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4 minutes ago, Gareth said:

Yes I agree, I suspect it was not on the table as an option.

I am sure that you are correct, Le Havre is not the best port for extra sailings, with just the one linkspan that BF like staying on most of the day and mooring lines secured by a man in a boat, it does not have a great capacity.

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I think we all make the mistake in not appreciating the ways and means. A port may have excellent facilities but if the access and approaches are limited HGV's and holiday traffic will look elsewhere.

The key is road and rail links, look around and you'll see how the landscape is changing in this regard, there is a lot going on. Here's just a few of the chess pieces.

Rosslare now has the benefit of the new motorway link and the bridge which makes the port a for more attractive proposition, for many years the port has had the facilities and the hardstanding but it's only due to the road improvements and Irish Rail's decision to change the timetables to suit sailings that we are now in the early stages of a shift in thinking.

Cork on the other hand has gone the other way. Their decision to concentrate their efforts on vastly increasing their container facilities means conventional ferry traffic in the future can't evolve, a conscious choice they've made as in reality the port authority know that due to berthing restrictions they'd never compete with Rosslare for holiday and accompanied freight traffic from an improved Rosslare heading to Spain. Worth noting too that this decision was made before any notion of the 2016 referendum.

Only 4% of the accompanied freight traffic from Ireland heading to French ports is destined for use or consumption in France, most of it is heading to Spain, Portugal & North Africa.

This is where the new and drastically improved Spanish links come into play.

For decades the main obstacle for a rail link across Northern Spain was due to differing rail gauges owned by two separate companies. This has now changed, Renfe own & control it all and due to EU funding, partly due to the political deals made with the Basque Country and the EU's decision to take 800,000 TEU's off the roads transiting France there is now the capacity to carry inter modal services from Vigo to Irun. This EU ruling is also the prime motivator in improving and expanding accompanied freight services from the Spanish ports and why Balearia will begin the service again from Gijon to St Nazaire. In tandem with this there is vast improvements being made to the AP9, A8 & AP8 road links.

Again the EU ruling together with BF's decision to begin the rail freight route to Cherbourg will in turn reduce pressure on the French Channel Ports.

Ouistreham is bursting at the seams. PNA's decision to further expand the hard standing at the port has been met with derision and been opposed by the townspeople who already think that the roads are too busy and in some cases dangerous. The road links to and from the port through the town are narrow and are not really suitable for the ever increasing volumes of heavy vehicles.

On the flip side, Cherbourg is ready, willing & able. It will have an automated rail platform for the unaccompanied freight, can handle huge volumes and also has the ability to berth multiple large RoPax, not to mention a road network capable of handling the traffic.

The relationship BF have with Stena has also been mentioned. They've always had it, combined they've had the Landbridge market cornered for years. What we're beginning to see now is an evolution of that.

Move the chess pieces and you can see broadly how the landscape will look in 2025.

It's my belief that Irish Ferries have made a huge mistake in not replacing Oscar Wilde as BF & Stena will control Rosslare to Spain sailings and Rosslare's links to Cherbourg.

BF's business model isn't at risk, it's evolved.

 

 

 

 and they'll be no place for I.F 

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1 hour ago, jonno said:

BF's business model isn't at risk, it's evolved.

But expanding a couple of points from your excellent piece.

1) Ouistreham is not the correct place to expand lorry traffic - totally agree it is a small holiday resort with a few km through town to get to a decent road (like Le Havre) , strategically this should evolve into primarily a passenger route - maybe bring back NEX as well.

2) More unaccompanied freight - does that mean more freight only vessels ?

When I mentioned business model it was the idea that most sailings were mixed Passenger / Freight, that means that the ships are not designed for just one role with the inherent compromises.

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4 hours ago, jonno said:

 

Ouistreham is bursting at the seams. PNA's decision to further expand the hard standing at the port has been met with derision and been opposed by the townspeople who already think that the roads are too busy and in some cases dangerous. The road links to and from the port through the town are narrow and are not really suitable for the ever increasing volumes of heavy vehicles.

On the flip side, Cherbourg is ready, willing & able. It will have an automated rail platform for the unaccompanied freight, can handle huge volumes and also has the ability to berth multiple large RoPax, not to mention a road network capable of handling the traffic.

 

The pattern of our sailings over the last number of years has been to cross overnight to Ouistreham and return on the 17.00 from Cherbourg because the timings worked at both ends for us. I have been struck though by the difference in the road infrastructure around the two ports. The road from Ouistreham towards the Caen ring road copes at 7am but it is a bottleneck coming off the sailing that arrives at 15.00. Cherbourg on the other hand has wide roads on its approach (unless you use a Garmin satnav which takes you down the backstreets).

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5 hours ago, David Williams said:

But expanding a couple of points from your excellent piece.

1) Ouistreham is not the correct place to expand lorry traffic - totally agree it is a small holiday resort with a few km through town to get to a decent road (like Le Havre) , strategically this should evolve into primarily a passenger route - maybe bring back NEX as well.

2) More unaccompanied freight - does that mean more freight only vessels ?

When I mentioned business model it was the idea that most sailings were mixed Passenger / Freight, that means that the ships are not designed for just one role with the inherent compromises.

Very nicely put. 

Let's look at the current permanent BF Ropax vessels within the fleet which serve France. Both Normandie & Mont St Michel can carry in excess of 2000 passengers. Armorique although smaller has a pax capacity of over 1500 and has more berths than the two ships which serve Ouistreham she also has less freight capacity than Barfleur - a ship built for Truckline not BF and will inaugurate the rail freight service to Poole. BF have already said that the English port is well suited for the task.

BF don't own the Visentini's which have far less to offer any potential traveller as they were designed and built to specifically serve freight services. The two which serve the channel are supplementary and not used on BF's core routes.

The remaining two, Pont Aven & Bretagne aren't RoPax and again can carry in excess of 2000 passengers.

More unaccompanied freight doesn't necessarily mean freight only vessels, there are many RoPax which are loaded with trailers, it's a regular occupation. The biggest obstacle is time, it takes longer.

The need for accompanied freight at the channel ports won't change, we won't stop buying the tonnes of fresh French produce or time sensitive specialised goods manufactured by our channel neighbours. The change will be the longer term non perishable goods which are driven up through Spain and France, it's this business that BF want to continue to carry hence the E-Flexers and the rail link which will cross the border at Irun.

Historically Spanish & Portuguese drivers who carry oranges for example usually take two days to reach the French channel coast. This traffic will be switched to the Spanish ports instead and reach our shores quicker. Switching from the Landbridge to a modern service to Rosslare will also mean that our Irish neighbours will receive their goods quicker too.

Forgot to mention... Freight only accounts for 15% of BF's business.

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On 18/07/2020 at 21:13, Seashore said:

(caveat, it’s likely Stena Lagan after rebuild is going to end up on the Karlskrona-Gdynia route, her rebuild is now delayed by four months).

.

Its back on actually.  She's been back in Turkey at the yard since mid-June

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On 21/07/2020 at 00:50, hhvferry said:

I'd be interested in that - I've spoken to a couple of masters of the later Visentinis with the updated bow designs who have been very enthusiastic in ttheir praise for the seakeeping qualities, whereas the earlier series were supposedly a little tender.

Same.  The Flex-Bow vessels are known to be "good sea boats".

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On 22/07/2020 at 08:52, Jim said:

Not a direct answer - but there will generally be a maximum certified number for a ship versus the actual number an operator decides to carry in terms of staffing/comfort. Sounds like it's theoretically 762 but BF run her at 375.

Official design capacity for ETRETAT is 800, but that likely is inclusive of crew.

On 20/07/2020 at 20:43, David Williams said:

I guess that it depends on costs. The Kerry has a cheap crew on contract, the Etretat never restarted after winter maintenance so maybe Connemara was more convenient.

Also no activation costs to use CONNEMARA.  Plus there's the manning agreement with Stena for KERRY as you allude to.  That money likely has to be paid regardless.

 

On 22/07/2020 at 18:11, jonno said:

 

The Swedes also have the only livestock licence giving them exclusive rights between Ireland & France... It's one of the main reasons for buying Celtic Line and they will benefit hugely from BF's multi-modal rail link at Cherbourg giving them the opportunity to indirectly serve Spain.

 

Factually incorrect.  Irish Ferries are also licensed to carry livestock between Ireland and France.  The arrival of W.B. YEATS increased this capability.

On 23/07/2020 at 12:33, jonno said:

There will be E-Flexers at Rosslare, the only question is whether they'll all have a red funnel or not.

I wouldn't bet on it, especially with a red funnel.

On 23/07/2020 at 15:30, hhvferry said:

Given the state of the shipping market, and Stena's relationship with BF, the three Visentinis will likely be theirs for as long as they want them (remember on one of them Stena took a ship off an existing charter party who would have been happy to extend to fill a BF requirement). They may be able to negotiate a rate reduction though if the existing term is coming to an end.

Stena RoRo will always do a deal with whoever it makes most commercial sense.  Even at the expense of Stena Line if need be.  

I'd argue that Visentini-style ships are exactly what many operators keen to get their costs down want right now as well.  It was a shrewd move snapping so many up when they had the chance.  If there aren't any takers, Stena Line would probably take them anyhow given they have chartered examples themselves.  If the Lagan/Mersey rebuilds are judged to be a success I wouldn't be surprised to see Stena recall the rest of their FlexBow examples for similar treatment.

On 25/07/2020 at 07:38, Gareth said:

To be honest, irrespective of the UK withdrawal from the EU, I’m surprised this hasn’t been what the hauliers would have wanted all along.  Faced with two ferry journeys totalling (including waiting) probably well over 10 hours coupled with long driving hours within the UK, against a single ferry journey of (including waiting) less than 20 hours coupled with a completely refreshed driver on arrival at destination, I’d have thought the direct ferry would have been more appealing every time (?)

Its a lot about costs and delivery times.  Hauliers live or die on utilisation and margins are tight.  In the age of just in time delivery, nearly an entire day on a ferry is rather inconvenient.  Especially when you are having to pay the driver to sit on the ferry (unaccompanied doesn't work particularly well with JIT).  Theres also the ability to collect and drop of part loads en route, something that is more common than many people realise but is surely now under threat.  As a random example, Dublin - Cherbourg is in the region of 18 hours by ferry.  Dublin to Paris is about 13 hours using the landbridge (its a little more than that to Cherbourg using landbridge via Portsmouth).  Of course breaks need to be included in that, but its a huge difference, plus the long ferry crossing has a cost as well!   Send the driver via Belfast or Dublin to Liverpool and the main rest break is already taken onboard so you have a driver with up to 10 hours driving time left.  Even with a couple of hours spent in customs, land bridge could still have an advantage - it all depends on what changes there are to trade between the UK and the EU of course.  

The "increase" in direct capacity between Ireland and Continental Europe isn't all that much when you consider what moves through Holyhead alone on a DAILY basis.  To "replace" the landbridge would take an armada of ships. According to the Welsh Government:
 

  • Of goods carried on Irish registered HGVs from the Republic of Ireland to the continent in 2018, 68.0 per cent went through Wales.

  • Of goods carried on Irish registered HGVs to Ireland from the continent, 82.4 per cent went through Wales

From there it's on to Dover, Portsmouth, Harwich, or elsewhere.  Of course not everything using the landbridge goes via Holyhead, Belfast (and even Larne) also has its share, though road improvements elsewhere make Scotland an increasingly less attractive option.

50 minutes ago, tarbyonline said:

Its back on actually.  She's been back in Turkey at the yard since mid-June

Should add that the new section for Lagan is already complete and that Mersey's is well underway (over 50% IIRC).

 

A lot of talk about what may or may not be Brittany Ferries plans for various tonnage in the future here.  Given the events of the previous six months and the nature of the ferry business as a result (just about everyone is trying to conserve cash/liquid funds), previous plans may be totally out the window.  Conversion projects (and delayed newbuild contracts) in particular tie up a lot of cash of course.  Christophe Matthieu himself has said BF have a "painful" 5 years ahead.

Edited by tarbyonline
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On 23/07/2020 at 15:30, hhvferry said:

Gareth, wondering what the long term plan might end up being, would a three e-flexer Portsmouth-Spain operation work with those three also maintaining a six time a week Portsmouth-Cherbourg operation?

Sorry to hark back briefly to this question.  But I realised, @hhvferry, that there is another way of doing it that avoids moving the Spain 2-nighter to the northbound crossing (which I suspect would be less appealing than the southbound one).  The three ships would work a pattern as follows, each staggered by a day.

Day 1:  0600 arr Portsmouth;  0900 dep Portsmouth

Day 2:  1400 arr Santander;  1700 dep Santander

Day 3:  2000 arr Portsmouth;  2300 dep Portsmouth

Day 4:  0700 arr Cherbourg;  1530 dep Cherbourg;  1900 arr Portsmouth;  2200 dep Portsmouth

Day 5:  At Sea

Day 6:  0600 arr Santander;  0900 dep Santander

Day 7:  1200 arr Portsmouth;  1430 dep Portsmouth;  2000 arr Cherbourg;  2300 dep Cherbourg

This would give Portsmouth-Cherbourg at 1430 three days a week, 2300 on three (different) days a week; Cherbourg-Portsmouth at 1530 three days a week and 2300 on three other days.  Portsmouth Santander at 0900 three days and 2200 (for 2 nights) three other days.  And Santander-Portsmouth at 0900 three days per week and at 1700 on three other days.  Crew change day for each ship would be on Day 4 in the cycle.

Example (depending on how the days were allocated):

Portsmouth-Cherbourg:  Mon 2300, Weds 1430, Thurs 1430, Fri 1430, Sat 2300, Sun 2300

Cherbourg-Portsmouth:  Mon 1530, Tues 1530, Weds 2300, Thurs 2300, Fri 2300, Sun 1530

Portsmouth-Santander:  Mon 2200, Tues 2200, Thurs 0900, Fri 0900, Sat 0900, Sun 2200

Santander-Portsmouth:  Tues 0900, Weds 0900, Thurs 0900, Fri 1700, Sat 1700, Sun 1700

(This particular day allocation gives no departure from Portsmouth to Spain on Weds and no departure from Spain to Portsmouth on Mon.  Both days on which PA is sailing from/to Plymouth).

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10 hours ago, tarbyonline said:

A lot of talk about what may or may not be Brittany Ferries plans for various tonnage in the future here.

To be fair, a lot of that talk has originated from BF's own rhetoric, in which "new ships", "new routes", "new travelling experiences" etc have been bigged up.  We're all aware that times are uncertain and that BF is in a precarious position.  We're all aware that plans are fluid and will almost certainly change.  But that doesn't invalidate pontification and speculation about what those plans might be by a group of enthusiasts in an enthusiasts forum.

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1 minute ago, Gareth said:

To be fair, a lot of that talk has originated from BF's own rhetoric, in which "new ships", "new routes", "new travelling experiences" etc have been bigged up.  We're all aware that times are uncertain and that BF is in a precarious position.  We're all aware that plans are fluid and will almost certainly change.  But that doesn't invalidate pontification and speculation about what those plans might be by a group of enthusiasts in an enthusiasts forum.

New routes -  Rosslaire - Cherbourg

New Experiences - a grazing lounge on Galacia and inclusive meals

New Ship - I expect that is linked to the Le Havre delay and will not be that new !

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I finally got through on live chat & asked about Le Havre, response was 

"I am afraid we are unable to provide any further details regarding the Le Havre sailing times yet as they are still under review."

No real help, however I have booked Caen instead for now as who knows when France gets banned again

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Yes, it’s increasingly clear isn’t it.  They’re either undecided about whether to continue, or have decided not to and are stalling the announcement.  Not good vibes for BF’s Le Havre route at the moment.

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