#FerryOrProperty? – April used to mark the opening of seasonal-only Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead ferry services until Stena Line withdrew operations in 2014, since then there has been no sign of a new operator to resume the service to Wales, writes Jehan Ashmore.
In response to queries from Afloat, Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company this week said they were not in a position to comment any further on the matter of a new ferry operation. The comment echoes a statement by DLHC as previously reported on Afloat earlier this year.
Notably, Dun Laoghaire Harbour’s St. Michael's Pier passenger terminal from where the HSS fastferry craft used to berth alongside is currently to let. The property agent describes the extensive two-storey building as the ‘former’ ferry terminal, where the arrival /departure hall is to let with a retail property area of (4,207.00 sqm).
The terminal complex has a further two properties to let, an office property (4,736.00 sqft) from where Stena are understood to have previously partly occupied.
Also on this second floor is a former restaurant (the Purple Ocean) with a retail property (2,325.00 sqm) which too is available to let.
To reflect on Stena’s decision to pull out of Dun Laoghaire, there were several reasons. Chiefly a continuous declining market on Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route coupled by high fuel costs of the fuel thristly fast-craft HSS Stena Explorer, competition on the Dublin route and air travel.
In order to stave off costs on the loss making route, Stena in 2012 abandoned the year-round service to a seasonal-only April to September schedule. In addition frequency was reduced to just a single daily round trip coupled by an increase in passage times. Again this measure was to minimise on the expensive to run HighSpeed Sea Service (HSS) craft.
It was not until early 2015 that Stena finally officially confirmed it was permanently pulling out of Dun Laoghaire Harbour. At that stage the HSS fastcraft had already been laid-up in Holyhead since September of the previous year.
The ferry firm instead consolidated existing Dublin Port-Holyhead operations and by introducing a second route ferry, Stena Superfast X that displaced a smaller ro-pax.
Effectively, the much larger ‘Superfast’ replaced the HSS albeit running out of the Irish capital.