Displaying items by tag: Stena Line
Plans to operate the first passenger-only ferry service between Northern Ireland and Scotland are scheduled to start in late May, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Kintyre Express is to operate a Ballycastle-Campbeltown service on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 27 May and 26 September. Three daily return trips are scheduled on the service though the 1200hrs sailing from Campeltown and the corresponding 1400hrs sailing from Ballycastle will only operate on customer demand.
The passage time is scheduled to take approximately 1 hour 30 minutes between County Antrim and the Mull of Kintyre which is a distance of some 50 kilometres / 30-miles. Ticket fares for a single journey are £30 and the return is £55. On the remaining days that the route is not operated on, the boat is available for private charter.
In addition the new venture is to include an on-demand Campbeltown-Troon route running between April and September. This second service, linking Argyll with Ayrshire, will operate on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The journey time is somewhat shorter with a scheduled time of 1 hour 15 minutes. The on-demand service must be booked in advance with singles fares costing £50 and a return ticket at £80. For further information click www.kintyreexpress.com
Like the recent proposals announced for a passenger-only ferry service across Galway Bay click here, the Kintyre Express operation will also use a fast-ferry in the form of rigid inflatable boats (RIB). The two routes from Campeltown will be served by Redbay Stormforce 11 metre RIBS which have centrally heated fully enclosed cabins for about 10 passengers. The Redbay Boats are built in Cushendall, Co. Antrim, for further information about the type of RIB to be used on the new routes click here.
The Ballycastle-Campbeltown route will be unique in that it will be the sole passenger-only ferry operator serving between the island of Ireland and the UK.
When the second route opens between Campbeltown-Troon, the company will be able to provide their boat service linked in with a train journey to Glasgow which they claim can be completed in less than two hours. Trains between Troon and Glasgow Central Station operate every 30 minutes and with a journey time of approximately 40 minutes.
For those who are car-free and time-free, this most northerly of travel routes is arguably the most scenic way to travel between Northern Ireland and Scotland and will appeal also to the intrepid traveler.
On both ferry services bicycles are carried for free and currently there is a special offer with all ferry tickets that can also be used for a free-day pass on the local Kintyre bus network for up to 24-hours. The bus operator is Craig of Campbeltown which trades as West Coast Motors and which owns Kintyre Express. The bus operator also serves on routes throughout Argyll and the island of Bute.
The next nearest cross-channel operator to the Kintyre Express Ballycastle-Campbeltown service is the car-carrying catamaran fast-ferry seasonal service between Larne and Troon operated by P&O (Irish Sea). The same company operates the year-round conventional car-ferry service on the North Channel between Larne and Cairnryan. Also operating to Loch Ryan is Stena Line which operates both ferry and HSS fast-craft services on the Belfast-Stranraer route.
Over the years there have been several attempts to revive the ferry between Ballycastle and Campeltown following a service that catered for vehicles too. For three summer seasons starting in 1997 the service was operated by the Argyll and Antrim Steam Packet Company, using the Claymore (1978/1,632grt) which could accommodate 500 passengers and 50 vehicles.
In 1996 the vessel was chartered to carry out tender duties for visitors and crew of the aircraft-carrier USS John F. Kennedy (displacement 82,655 tons full load) which was at anchor off Dun Laoghaire Harbour.
The Stena Leader went to lay-up in Belfast. In the meantime the remaining vessels Stena Seafarer and Stena Pioneer continue to serve the Northern Ireland-Lancashire link.When the route closes, it is expected that the pair will re-join the Stena Leader in Belfast, where all three sisters will be at lay-up berth at Albert Quay. The Swedish owned ferry operator uses the port's Victoria Terminal 4, for their HSS and conventional ferry service to Stranrear, Scotland.
In early December Stena Line announced the acquisition of two routes and four vessels from rivals, DFDS Seaways. The £40m deal sees Stena taking over the freight-only route between Belfast and Heysham operated by Scotia Seaways and Hibernia Seaways, a pair of Japanese built 13,000 gross tonnes vessels.
The second route is the Belfast-Birkenhead (Liverpool) route, served by two chartered 27,000 gross tonnes ro-pax sisters, Lagan Seaways and Mersey Seaways. The ro-pax vessels will be sold to Stena Line as part of the agreement between the two ferry operators.
The route has made significant losses over recent years and to running an aging fleet on the 7-hour service. Stena cite that investment in new tonnage was not an option due to higher capitol costs. "No business can continue to carry such losses on an ongoing basis so there is no alternative but to close the route at the end of this year," he added.
The trio of vessels, Stena Leader (1975/12,879grt), Stena Pioneer (1975/14,426grt) and Stena Seafarer (1975/10,957grt) serve the link between Lancashire and Northern Ireland which takes freight, cars and their passengers but does not cater for 'foot' passengers.
Late last month a fire took place in the engine room of the Stena Pioneer during a sailing to Fleetwood, the fire was extinguished using onboard equipment and fortunately without incident to crew or passengers.The Stena Pioneer was operated by B&I Line as their Bison in a joint service with Pandoro on the Dublin-Liverpool route between 1989-1993.
Under the new agreement, Stena Line's take-over of Belfast-Heysham, the port is a close neighbour to Fleetwood will include the 13,000 tonnes sisters Hibernia Seaways and Scotia Seaways.The other route aquired is Belfast-Birkenhead (Liverpool) which is significant in that the deal will include the purchase of the chartered 27,000 gross tonnes ro-pax twins, Mersey Seaways and Lagan Seaways. The sisters were built in 2005 at the Visentini shipyard, Italy, which also built the ro-pax sisters Dublin Seaways and Liverpool Seaways.
Measuring 21,000 gross tonnes these vessels operate Dublin-Birkenhead route but remain under DFDS Seaways control and this applies to their freight-only service from the Irish capital to Heysham served by the Anglia Seaways. The 120-trailer freight ferry is also a sister of the Belfast-Heysham pair.
Notably the transaction will see Stena Line enter operations on the Mersey for the first time.The Swedish operator will use the river's Birkenhead Twelve Quays ferryport terminal located on the Wirral, opposite the famous Liverpool waterfront.
Stena Line will not only share the double berth facility with DFDS Seaways but also the Isle of Man Steam Packet (IOMSPCo) which in recent years has operated winter sailings to Douglas. In the summer the Isle of Man ferry operator uses the Liverpool landing stage berth on the other side of the river which is also shared by the 'ferry cross the Mersey' fleet operated by Mersey Ferries.
The sale covers the routes between Belfast and Birkenhead (Liverpool) and Belfast-Heysham. Operating on the northern Irish Sea routes are two 13,000 gross tonnes Japanese built freight ro-ro ferries sisters Hibernia Seaways and Scotia Seaways in addition to two chartered ro-pax vessels as part of the transaction.
Niels Smedegaard, CEO of DFDS, said: "The Irish routes we took over in conjunction with the purchase of Norfolkline have, in spite of the recent impressive efforts by everyone employed on the routes, in the last two years lost more than thirty million euros. Given the depressed economies a turnaround of the activities, without structural solutions, is not realistic. On this basis, we have decided to scale back our activities and sell the two routes to and from Belfast."
In the deal Stena Line, the Swedish owner will also take control of port terminals in Belfast, Birkenhead and Heysham. The majority of shore-based staff at these port terminals will be transferred to Stena, maintaining their current conditions.
DFDS and Stena Line will share staff at these locations during an agreed transitional period at the end of which DFDS will establish their own agency operations at Birkenhead and Heysham.
The new arrangement will see DFDS focusing on its other services between Dublin to Birkenhead (which includes passengers) and from Dublin to Heysham. Italian built sisters ro-pax sisters Liverpool Seaways and Dublin Seaways currently operate on the Dublin-Birkenhead route and the 120-trailer freight-ferry, Anglia Seaways maintains serving the Heysham route. Operations at the Dublin Port terminal are not affected by this transaction.
DFDS will continue to review their strategic and operations routes in Dublin, which is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2011. The Danish owned shipping and logistics transportation company operate an extensive route network throughout the Irish Sea, North Sea and Scandinavia.
Twenty-year old sailor Tiffany Brien from Royal North of Ireland Yacht Club presented an £18,000 Paralympic sailing boat to local disabled charity Belfast Lough Sailability in Belfast Harbour today – the culmination of two years of fundraising by the 2012 Olympic hopeful.
The boat was officially launched today at Abercorn Basin, Titanic Quarter Belfast and was formally named 'Will Power' by Tiffany and Len O'Hagan, Chairman of Belfast Harbour. The significance of the name relates to a very close friend of Tiffany's, Will Doggart, who was paralysed last year following an accident. Will attended the launch today and has sailed in the new boat alongside Tiffany.
The 'Skud 18' sailing boat took two years to build in Australia and is the most high tech paralympic boat available. 'Will Power' is the first of its kind to arrive in Ireland and has already been committed to the goal of qualifying for the Irish Paralympic sailing team for the 2012 Paralympic Games - with local athlete Steve Frecknell hoping to compete for a medal. The boat will be the responsibility of Carrick based sailing charity Belfast Lough Sailability who will also use the boat to help disabled sailors to sail competitively in Northern Ireland.
Tiffany Brien began her fundraising campaign two years ago when she sailed 30 miles single-handedly across the Irish Sea from Portpatrick in Scotland to Belfast Lough raising a total of £18,400. Before launching the boat today she commented: "I am so excited to be sailing the new boat in Belfast Harbour today. It feels like I have been waiting for a long time for it to arrive. It is even more exciting that the Irish Paralympic sailing team has committed to using the new boat in their campaign for the 2012 Paralympic Games - fingers crossed it helps to bring a medal back."
Tiffany will also be hoping to bring an Olympic medal back to Northern Ireland as she is currently competing to represent Ireland in the Laser Radial Class at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Nigel Thompson, Chairman of Belfast Lough Sailability comments: "Everyone at Sailability is totally overcome with the sheer determination and generosity Tiffany has shown in her fundraising campaign. The arrival of the boat today is the culmination of the dedication and resolve demonstrated by this young lady when she sailed singled handedly across the Irish Sea. Not only will our Paralympic hopefuls benefit from this but many other disabled sailors in Northern Ireland will get to enjoy this exceptional boat - including Tiffany's friend Will, who hopes to become an active member of Sailability and a keen sailor. We would like to thank Tiffany sincerely and wish her the best of luck in her own Olympic campaign."
Belfast Lough Sailability is a "not for profit", volunteer-based charity which, through the activity of sailing, enriches the lives of people with any type of disability, the elderly, the financially and socially disadvantaged.
Belfast Harbour has been the principal sponsor of Tiffany's Sailability campaign. BTWCairns, Airtricity, Stena Line, Belfast Telegraph and Ulster Bank and Brook House Art & Design are associate sponsors.