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Irish Ferries to Boost Dublin Route Capacity Over Festive Season

16th October 2012
Irish Ferries to Boost Dublin Route Capacity Over Festive Season

#FERRY NEWS – In an unprecedented move Irish Ferries are to operate three vessels on the Dublin-Holyhead route in the run-up to the busy festive and New Year periods, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Irish Ferries will transfer the cruiseferry Isle of Inishmore (1997/34,031grt) onto the popular central Irish Sea route linking the capital with North Wales. This will enable additional capacity of 2,200 passengers and more than 800 vehicles at a time when rivals are cutting back winter services.

The Dublin route is already served by the 'flagship' Ulysses, one of the largest car-ferries in the world and the twin-hulled catamaran Jonathan Swift which has a crossing time of 1 hour 49 minutes. The high-speed ferry which is marketed as the 'Dublin' Swift is the only fast ferry serving on the Irish Sea to operate on a year-round basis.

Isle of Inishmore is scheduled to run the additional Dublin-Holyead sailings on the following dates: 22, 23 and 27 December 2012, and on 2 and 3 January 2013. As such the Isle of Inishmore will provide an extra sailing in each direction on the central corridor route.

Head of Passenger Sales at Irish Ferries Dermot Merrigan said "So many people in the UK have Irish roots that Christmas and New Year are some of our busiest sailings".

"In previous years, bad weather has hit airports hard, sending thousands of extra passengers our way at the last minute. We're making plans now, so that whatever happens, travellers can rely on Irish Ferries to get them home in time for Christmas."

With the Isle of Inishmore's additional sailings, Irish Ferries will have the capacity to carry 6,360 passengers and 3,820 vehicles between the UK and Ireland on each of those five key dates.

On those dates, the Oscar Wilde, which usually serves between Ireland and France, will replace the Isle of Inishmore on the Rosslare–Pembroke Dock route.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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