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LD Lines to Cease Ireland-France-Spain Services

27th August 2014
LD Lines to Cease Ireland-France-Spain Services

#IrelandSpainFerry – Ireland's first historic ro-ro ferry connection to Spain via a France 'landbridge' service launched in January by LD Lines as previously reported, is to cease operations with the final sailing departing Rosslare this Friday, writes Jehan Ashmore.

In a statement released to Afloat.ie, "LD Lines can confirm that we will be withdrawing our Rosslare - St.Nazaire - Gijon services after the 29 August sailing from Rosslare. Bookings had only ever been taken until 5 September and sailings for the final week of sailings were suspended as long as March whenever the decision was taken only to operate the service for the peak summer season.

The company spokesperson added, "Any passengers booked on the last two sailings have been transferred to the Rosslare - Cherbourg route. Only a very small number of passengers were affected by this decision." For ferry sailing information click HERE.

Norman Atlantic, (ex. Scintu See Photo) a 26,904 tonnes ro-pax ferry, is due to make her final inbound sailing to Rosslare tomorrow (28 August) and remain overnight in the Wexford port.

As referred above, her final outbound sailing from Rosslare on Friday (29 August) departs at 21.00 to St. Nazaire. The 22 hour crossing is scheduled to arrive at 19.00 the following day in the south Breton port downriver from Nantes along the Loire estuary.

LD Lines 'Motorways of the Sea' route allowed for a stopover en route in mid-west France before completing the journey to Spain at the port in the northern region of Asturias. Passengers had the added option of visiting resorts in western France and throughout Spain.

The French operator's core market was to capture the Irish-Iberian freight trade by offering a more cost effective and environment friendly alternative. A notable benefit particular to freight drivers was avoiding longer distances across France and EU haulage directives.

Norman Atlantic's 550 passenger ferry is of the popular Italian Visentini built ro-pax design. She can accommodate 110 freight vehicles or 150 trailers along with 200 tourist cars. As also reported, she had been previously off-service for three-months for dry-docking and other duties until she resumed the Irish route in June.

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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