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Irish Ferries Increases Capacity on Irish Sea Dublin to Holyhead Route

7th November 2013
Irish Ferries Increases Capacity on Irish Sea Dublin to Holyhead Route

#ferry – Irish Ferries is to increase its capacity and frequency on the Dublin to Holyhead route through the introduction of a third ship in December 2013.

Currently, the ferry company operates eight sailings per day on the key Irish Sea route using its flagship Ulysses and the High Speed Craft Jonathan Swift.

Irish Ferries has chartered the Epsilon (2011 built ) to supplement its existing Ireland to Britain services. The ship will provide two additional departures per day in each direction which will result in an increase in the company's schedule to a maximum of twelve sailings between Dublin and Holyhead each day. The recently built vessel will provide significant vehicle capacity along with modern facilities on board including cabins, bar/cafeteria and self-service restaurant.

Targeting the growing Freight and Tourism markets, the Epsilon will further improve Irish Ferries' range of offers to its customers on the Irish Sea. In addition to the improved frequency on its Dublin to Holyhead route, the chartered vessel will also provide opportunities for improved annual dry-dock cover within the company's fleet along with scope for increased capacity on other Irish Ferries' Irish Sea and Ireland to France services.

Commenting on the announcement, Irish Ferries' Marketing Director, Tony Kelly, said, "Irish Ferries decision to invest in additional capacity at this time is a major vote of confidence by the Republic of Ireland's leading ferry operator in the recovery of the country's economy. We believe that Ireland has turned the corner and we are prepared to invest in the provision of improved services for our valued Freight and Tourism customers who have shown fantastic loyalty throughout the last five difficult years."

SHIP STATS
Name: 'Epsilon'
Built: Delivered 2011, Cantiere Navale Visentini, Italy
Flag: Italy (IMO No. 9539054)
Length Overall (LOA): 186.46 metres
Free Height: 4.87 metres main deck
Beam: 25.6 metres
Draft: 6.85 metres
Maximum Speed: 24 knots
Passenger Capacity (PC): 500 plus crew
Cabins: 68 x 4 berth + 2 x 2 berth (disabled)
Vehicle Deck Capacity: Approx 2,860 lane metres

Published in Ferry
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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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