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Northern Ferry On Southern Service 'Trials' for New Owners

15th December 2016
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F.B.D. Tintarn (as above) was joined by Foyle Venture yesterday albeit for 'berthing trials' on the Waterford Estuary service of Passage East-Ballyhack F.B.D. Tintarn (as above) was joined by Foyle Venture yesterday albeit for 'berthing trials' on the Waterford Estuary service of Passage East-Ballyhack Photo: Passage East Ferry

#BerthingTrials – A pair of car ferries were on the Waterford Estuary link of Passage East-Ballyhack yesterday but only one vessel was actually operating in service, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Foyle Venture (44 vehicle/300 passenger) was carrying out 'berthing trials' for the Passage East Ferry Company service operated by the routine ferry F.B.D. Tintarn (28 vehicle/130 passenger). The south-east service provides commuters a short cut connecting Waterford City and the Wexford region. 

The Ulster ferry had previously stopped winter service of the Lough Foyle Ferry Company's Greencastle-Magilligan Point route. Sailings are to resume between Donegal and Derry in Spring 2017.

The established ferry service in Leinster was founded in 1982 by Derek Donnelly who announced his retirement from the business earlier this year. In that timeframe Dunbrody and Edmund D have run the shuttle service until the current ferry FBD Tintarn. This ferry has been in service for a decade having made a debut in December 2006. 

As Afloat covered in May the operation was sold to Frazer Ferries, the Limerick based company behind Carlingford Ferries that has proposed a new service in Northern Ireland. As for the Passage East based ferry FBD Tintarn, the prefix refers to FBD Holdings plc which retains a 70% share in the business, arising out of a legacy investment.

Afloat noted Foyle Venture had berthed in Waterford City earlier this week along the Frank Cassin Wharf, the former Bell Liner container terminal.

The ferry has since returned to the same city berth which in recent years was occupied by a passenger freight-ferry that had a wartime role. Afloat will have more on this soon.

 

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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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