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Europort in A Storm - Rosslare Out to Catch Brexit Tide

30th April 2019
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Rosslare Europort is served by three ferries which operate on routes to the UK (south Wales) and France (Normandy) but no longer served is Brittany. AFLOAT also adds (on the left) Irish Ferries cruiseferry Isle of Inishmore which operates to Pembroke and Stena Line's ropax Stena Horizon which calls to Cherbourg. The remaining ferry that uses the Co. Wexford harbour is Stena Europe (currently in dry-dock, see Ferry News: 17th April ) which has been temporarily replaced by Stena Nordica on the route to Fishguard. Rosslare Europort is served by three ferries which operate on routes to the UK (south Wales) and France (Normandy) but no longer served is Brittany. AFLOAT also adds (on the left) Irish Ferries cruiseferry Isle of Inishmore which operates to Pembroke and Stena Line's ropax Stena Horizon which calls to Cherbourg. The remaining ferry that uses the Co. Wexford harbour is Stena Europe (currently in dry-dock, see Ferry News: 17th April ) which has been temporarily replaced by Stena Nordica on the route to Fishguard. Photo: Jehan Ashmore

#ferries - At the end of last year Irish Continental Group (ICG) announced its decision not to run its Irish Ferries services this summer to France from Rosslare, Co Wexford, the move was met with both surprise and shock in the south-east port.

After all, the Irish Independent writes, the company's new 'cruise ferry', the WB Yeats, which can carry more than 1,800 passengers and 1,200 vehicles, had just arrived in Ireland after a delay and there were great expectations that ICG would put the ship on its Rosslare to Cherbourg, France route. 

Instead, ICG decided to operate the ferry service from Dublin Port to Cherbourg, lured by the scope for additional business in the capital.

Irish Ferries is still operating its Rosslare-to-Pembroke service while Stena runs from the south eastern port to Fishguard as well as to Cherbourg.

But if many were stunned by the move, for some in the Rosslare business community it was a progression for Irish Ferries that should have been anticipated.

According to Damien Roche, managing director of Rosslare-based Roche Logistics Group, which he co-owns with his brother Conor, it was simply a numbers game for ICG.

To read much more on the ferryport click here.

Afloat.ie adds Irish Ferries decision last year to abandon Rosslare also involved a second route to France, Roscoff in Brittany which was only operated in the peak-season summer months. This leaves Brittany Ferries as the sole operator maintaining an Ireland-Brittany link on the Cork-Roscoff route which is experiencing a passenger boost. 

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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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