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Irish Ferries ‘Epsilon’ Operated Sailings Resume Service on Welsh and French Routes

20th May 2014
Irish Ferries ‘Epsilon’ Operated Sailings Resume Service on Welsh and French Routes

#FerryResolved – Irish Ferries ro-pax Epsilon re-entered service today, following technical issues that started on Friday, leading to cancellation of the weekend Dublin-Cherbourg round trip and those to Holyhead, where today's 14.15hrs sailing departed from the capital to Wales, writes Jehan Ashmore.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, all effected passengers on the central corridor route were accommodated on the ferry company's High Speed Craft, HSC Jonathan Swift in addition to sailings served by flagship cruiseferry, Ulysses.

During her absence on the routes to Anglesey and Normandy, Epsilon had shifted berths from the Dublin Port ferry terminal to the Deepwater Quay facing opposite, and more recently she had occupied a berth within Alexandra Basin, before repairs were resolved.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the parent company of Irish Ferries, the Irish Continental Group (ICG) released first quarter financial figures as part of the interim management statement.

In the statement's report, in terms of the ferries division, volumes of Year-to-date (17 May 2014) were as follows and with changes in performance as outlined below within brackets.

Passengers: 441,100 (0%)
Cars: 95,000 (+5%)
RoRo Freight: 87,900 (+18%)

During the period Irish Ferries inaugurated a weekly Dublin-Cherbourg service, operated at weekends by the chartered Epsilon. The Italian flagged Visetini built ro-pax also provides an additional 8 round trips (except Mondays) on the Dublin-Holyhead route.

As a result the contribution of Epsilon operated sailings combined to the overall route network increase by 17%.The other routes are Rosslare-Pembroke Dock, Rosslare-Cherbourg and as recently reported the reopened Rosslare-Roscoff seasonal-only service that began the 2014 season to the Breton port.

The financial results for the last quarter of this year reflected additional costs of operating the Epsilon during the launch phase period on both her sailings serving Holyhead and Cherbourg.

According to Irish Ferries, in the 20 weeks up to last Saturday, they carried 95,000 cars, an increase of 5% on 2013. While car passenger numbers were up, in line with the car volumes, total passenger volumes were in line with the previous year at 441,100 due to a fall in 'foot' passenger carryings.

As regards Roll-on Roll-off (Ro/Ro) freight sector, Irish Ferries carried 87,900 units in this market, an increase of 18% compared with the same period for last year and is a reflected from the introduction of Epsilon's freight capacity and in a growing freight market.

For more information on other sectors of ICG operations, the statement as linked before can also be read in full HERE.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

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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