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Relief Ferry Returns to Dry Dock Forcing Routine Passage East Ferry to Remain In Service

16th March 2018

#FerryNews - Attempts to operate the Passage East Ferry service in Waterford Estuary were beset with bad weather recently and mechanical issues however sailings resumed service yesterday afternoon, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The routine ferry, Frazer Tintern links Passage East on the Waterford side and Ballyhack in Wexford and takes 15 minutes for the 22-vehicle ferry to complete a round trip. On average there are 120 crossings daily.

The intended relief ferry, Frazer Aisling Gabrielle that normally serves Scenic Carlingford Ferry's route, had just completed an annual refit at New Ross Boat Yard. On arrival in Passage East on Wednesday, the 44-vehicle ferry was to have taken up operations however strong winds and tides led to cancelled sailings.

When weather conditions improved yesterday, Frazer Aisling Gabrielle was still prevented in sailing due to mechanical issues. This forced the relief ferry to return to the New Ross Boat Yard for further work on the banks of the Barrow. The dry-dock facility is where FBD Tintern arrived the day before for annual overhaul too, however the ferry was equally forced in returning to service. 

Afloat previously monitored the Frazer Tintern make the original journey to the dry-dock located south of New Ross Port. This involved making a transit through the swing-bridge section of the Barrow Bridge which carried the railway line between Waterford City and Rosslare Harbour. An exception is container freight trains serving Belview (Port of Waterford) terminal located to the east of the city.

Despite the delays to Frazer Aisling Gabrielle, sailings in the absence of this ferry on the Scenic Carlingford Ferry link are been maintained by the Frazer Mariner.

Fortunately, Frazer Mariner is a refief ferry which is available to remain on the Carlingford service, though the ferry is due this month to return on the seasonal Scenic Lough Foyle ferry service. The launch of the seasonal service is however approaching the busy Easter Bank Holiday weekend. 

All three ferry operations are part of the Limerick based Frazer Ferries Group which launched the first ever Carlingford ferry service last year aswell as the re-opening of the Foyle operation. In 2016 the group acquired the Waterford estuary service.

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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