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K2rockall

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Surely it is the same if DFDS prop up a loss-making operation using the considerable wealth of their parent company? The same could be said for any new operator on D-C. Anyhow, the better solution for the CMA would be to break up ET and MFL when it *could be proven* that competition was adversely affected. And break them up, in the same way US competition authorities threatened to break up Microsoft a decade or more ago. Split them into separate companies, thereby keeping the MFL operation running but outside of ET influence. The chosen "cease and desist" order was bound to cause this disaster.

 

Disclaimer: I'd rather the tunnel had never been built in the first place, hovercraft ruled.

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Surely it is the same if DFDS prop up a loss-making operation using the considerable wealth of their parent company?

 

No it's not. The tunnel is unique and no one else can just decide they're going to build one across the Channel in competition; I actually remember that the original part of the deal was that Eurotunnel had to build a second set of tunnels by 2050 that would be road tunnels and the existing rail tunnels would be dedicated to passenger/freight trains like Eurostar and hauled freight wagons. Whether that is still the case I don't know, since then Eurotunnel have had a pretty monumental rescue and £billions debt written down, written off or postponed. They're only in business now because of that, whilst DFDS and P&O don't have the luxury of state bailouts (note, I deliberately excuse a couple of French owned operators from that).

 

On other points:

 

I'd rather the tunnel had never been built in the first place

 

Really?

 

What it's done to international travel has been a vast improvement. Who would even think of flying from London to Paris anymore? Only if you need to use it as a hub to connect to another flight. That's where it has had a real positive improvement and essentially frees up airport capacity especially in LHR and CDG. Although I'm one of these people that think the whole debate about the new runway is missing the whole point... it's not Heathrow or Gatwick or neither, that's the wrong question. It should be both Heathrow AND Gatwick each getting a new runway.

 

Yes it's eaten into the ferry market but P&O are still running 5x ships as they did pre-tunnel. Sealink Stena/Stena Sealink/Stena Line/Sealink SNAT had 5x ships between them which is what DFDS have now. RMT Dover-Oostende was already in terminal decline through insufficient investment. Routes like Dover-Boulogne (P&O) and Folkestone-Boulogne (Sealink Stena) were mooted to have been closed due to the threat of the tunnel; utter rubbish, P&O and/or Stena would have kept them running as long as they could make money and that was at least two more years to the scheduled Tunnel opening, that was just a lame excuse to focus on Calais.

 

The only service the Tunnel really killed was the Dover Western Docks to Calais (Sealink ALA using Chartres as a train-connected ferry) and Dunkerque (Sealink SNAT using Nord Pas-de-Calais as the train ferry), it didn't kill the P&O and Stena operations but there was an adjustment in capacity with the P&O Stena Line merger, but essentially that replaced some very small ships in comparison like Pride of Bruges, Stena Challenger and Stena Invicta which in fairness were never really up to it for that route, although nice enough ships they all were.

 

The other operator that has gone was Sally Ferries. Did anyone ever pay to go them? I think we paid for every crossing with their Nautical Miles; you'd spend 10 (or whatever) on a crossing and they'd give you 20 more. It was impossible to use them all up. That service was based on duty free, the Tunnel didn't close that route.

 

hovercraft ruled

 

Fast, yes. Fun, yes. Ruled, no. Hoverspeed were already phasing them out at pre-Tunnel with the SeaCats. The hovercraft were just too small, too expensive to run and too weather dependent, plus they had operating hours restrictions because of the tremendous noise they made, the Isle of Wight ones are almost silent in comparison.

 

cause this disaster

 

I'm certainly no Daily Mail reader, but the whole of France seems to be disaster zone at the moment. Having lived there I know the score, but it seems pretty militant at the moment and their economy seems to be really in the poop. So much for all their comments a how the Anglo-Saxon economic model was doomed. Largely their own fault for electing that utterly useless Hollande... perhaps this will be known as the French Summer of Discontent.

Edited by Seashore

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(Apologies for going increasingly off topic here)

 

You're ignoring the massive increase in traffic volumes. Had the tunnel remained a political fantasy, rather than a political reality, the ferry market would have had to grow massively.

 

Whilst in principle a tunnel under the channel makes sense, it just doesn't work in reality. If the rail network across the EU was unified enough to allow easily inter-country travel, and if border controls were simplified enough for people to simply walk on and off trains, and if the design of the network permitted fast car-carrying trains to travel to key tourism hotspots (thinking Nice/Cap'd'Agde) then yes it would work. There are too many rules, regulations and anti-free-market policies (and sadly, too much EUand UK politics) surrounding the use of the tunnel for it to ever become more than a huge waste of time and money. If you took all of the money that has been invested in it, and had invested it in ships and road infrastructure instead we would have 99% less problems than we do now. The biggest problem the UK has is an appalling undercapacity on all major trunk roads as well as on nearly all rail infrastructure.

 

I'm not arguing the hovercraft were an amazing solution, but had the huge amount of money thrown at the tunnel project been better utilised, who knows what we might have ended up with?!

 

Anyway, I still stick with the "split them up when they become an issue" line, because if there's no job losses the french unions won't give a monkeys. They might even applaud big business being slapped one. ET would end up with another huge bailout, and everybody's happy.

 

If I understand correctly, the current disquiet in France seems to have stemmed from the MFL strike as other industries jump on the bandwagon to paralyse as much of the country as possible (new meaning to big society, huh).

 

Also, one could equally point out that DFDS does not *need* state bailouts to sustain a considerable loss.

 

 

Edited by LordDevereux

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I would love to see a modern car carrying hovercraft, probably made of carbon fibre with clean propulsion.... But then I would like to see a new super sonic aircraft, an end to operation stack, etc etc!

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Eurotunnel has lost it's case at the UK Supreme Court today, preventing it from operating a ferry service for 2 years plus restrictions for another 8. This means they will not be able to operate the Nord Pas de Calais as they had hoped and the vessel is up for sale.

 

http://www.eurotunnelgroup.com/uploadedFiles/assets-uk/Media/Press-Releases/2015-Press-Release/151216-UK-Decision-CMA.pdf

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Some heads need to roll at the CMA. There are some serious problems with the way this whole case has been handled. How could eurotunnel POSSIBLY sustain a monopoly with 1 freight only ship. Clueless.

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