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Dublin and Rosslare routes to recieve public service obligation funding.(Read 1538 times)
The Government is setting aside €15m to ensure the continued operation of five ferry routes from Dublin and Rosslare for a minimum of three months.

The move follows a request for help from ferry companies who have seen numbers collapsing on their Irish routes since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.

Routes to be protected under "public service obligation" designation are Rosslare-Cherbourg, Rosslare-Bilbao, Rosslare-Pembroke, Rosslare-Fishguard and Dublin-Cherbourg.

The ferry companies involved are Irish Ferries, Stena Line and Brittany Ferries.

According to Minister Paul Kehoe, the move was "essential" to keep the routes viable.

"This emergency measure is extremely welcome given the huge collapse in tourism that is affecting the entire industry," he said.

"It is also vital to ensure the protection of supply chains," he added.



Any PSO supports towards other ferry routes which must also be facing serious financial problems and uncertain future

(1) Dublin to Douglas, Isle of Man (Steam Packet)

(2) Dublin to Liverpool (P&O Ferries)

(3) Dublin to Holyhead (Irish Ferries)

(4) Dublin to Holyhead (Stena Line)
 
(5) Cork to Roscoff, France (Brittany Ferries)

(6) Rosslare to Roscoff, France (Brittany Ferries)



The PSO funding applies only to important trade links which have become unviable to operate due to the fall in traffic.
Routes to the Isle of Man are of no economic importance to the state and the routes to and from Liverpool and Holyhead are currently not included because they remain viable.



Any PSO supports towards other ferry routes which must also be facing serious financial problems and uncertain future

(1) Dublin to Douglas, Isle of Man (Steam Packet)

(2) Dublin to Liverpool (P&O Ferries)

(3) Dublin to Holyhead (Irish Ferries)

(4) Dublin to Holyhead (Stena Line)
 
(5) Cork to Roscoff, France (Brittany Ferries)

(6) Rosslare to Roscoff, France (Brittany Ferries)

This funding is to keep routes open for freight operations during the current crisis.

Dublin - Holyhead has enough traffic at the moment to sustain operations.
Dublin - Douglas would be a passenger route, so wouldn't qualify.
Cork - Roscoff is mainly a passenger route, so wouldn't qualify.



Rosslare Pembroke and Rosslare Fishguard which both link Ireland's South-East region with South Wales would surely have a high proportion of "passenger" traffic especially during previous high seasons yet they qualify for PSO funding. Why not award PSO funding during the period of this crisis to also cover Dublin to Douglas, Cork to Roscoff, Dublin to Liverpool etc; and not discriminate them just on the basis of lower freight volumes.

When they put the new W.B. Yeats on the Dublin Cherbourg route during high season - there would be a high number of passengers on board these sailings as it's a cruise ferry vessel much like Brittany Ferries MV Pont Aven on Cork Roscoff route which was not awarded PSO funding. PSO funding is given to some airline "passenger" routes like Dublin to Kerry and Galway to the Aran Islands also springs to mind. Ferries should be no different especially in the current climate.

Trade is trade whether it is:

(1) primarily freight or,
(2) a combination of both freight & passenger traffic or,
(3) primarily passenger orientated

Loss of trade due to the necessary Covid-19 restrictions introduced has a negative effect on so many businesses including all ferry operators, airlines, tour operators, travel agencies & a whole variety of tourism interests - if they cannot get financial assistance some routes may close permanently just like high street retail and so on. All existing routes should be financially supported as there is one thing Ireland will badly need when this is all over and that is to welcome tourists from outside the state to all parts of Ireland.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2020, 11:43:32 pm by awaityourreply »



PSO funding is only for the duration of the current crisis. There are no passenger services operating between Dublin and IOM at present the IOM is effectively shut down to all visitors there are no Ireland-Roscoff services currently operating and there are virtually no passengers using any Irish sea services as if your travel is not for one of the permitted reasons it is illegal. Also passengers arriving into Ireland are required to self isolate for 14 days. WB will probably remain on Holyhead route until restrictions are lifted and at that time any PSO subsidies will stopped. The point of PSO is to enable services which may otherwise be cancelled by the operator to continue.



The Goverment funding is to provided to ensure continued supply of goods to the state.

Our Department of Foreign Affairs is advising for people not to travel overseas including to Britain unless they are bringing in essential goods to the country. They are also recommending people not to travel on Cruise Ships

Cork / Rosslare - Rosscoff and Dublin - Isle of Man are summer only routes set up for passenger and car traffic and are deamed non essential.

Routes out of Dublin to Britian are viable.

Routes out of Rosslare must be struggling hard and i would say that all ferry companies petitioned the state to
subsidise the fuel to operate these routes during this period,

I am sure Isle of Inishmore would have moved to Dublin to operate on a Dublin - Holyhead Shuttle service where it not for the availability of WB Yeats.

Epsilon has taken over WB Yeats operations on Dublin - Cherbourg until Mid May at the earliest.

France is still in Lockdown and suffering much worse than we are so there would be nowhere to go if you were to travel to Cherbourg.

It is good to see that the State saw the Rosslare - Bilbao service as critical to the state.

« Last Edit: April 11, 2020, 01:27:23 pm by IFPete »



I understand the importance of supporting our critical routes and ensuring the continuation of freight during the crisis - absolutely right.

Incidentally the Rosslare-Bilbao service was barely started when the Coronavirus restrictions were first rolled-out and that route had directly replaced the Cork-Santander link which ended towards the end of February.

Not heard much comment on P&O Ferries Dublin to Liverpool route which I gather is still operating albeit during daytime only.

However; there will also be more elements to this crisis that need to be addressed such as tourism which is essential for the Irish jobs and our economy.

Let's be in no mistake about this, whether a service is a "seasonal/summer only service" or otherwise, it's medium to long term viability could now be at stake as ferry operators, like so many other businesses, will suffer for a long time after this. As this is obviously not an Ireland-only health crisis, the fact that so much social/business activity has already been stopped for a month and is likely to remain closed (apart from "essential only services") until after the May Bank Holiday and probably a lot longer, I would be concerned about future route access down the line as ferry companies are commercial entities.

Just because the "seasonal/summer" services had not begun operating by the time the lock-down measures were originally introduced - they would have many customers who already paid deposits towards holidays, only to defer travel arrangements to later dates and now some of these "deferred dates" have since passed in some cases and customers will usually be offered vouchers for use by a certain date which may not work for customers who may not be available/or in a position to travel later in the year. Other customers with future booking dates may no longer wish to travel even if there is a lifting on non-essential travel restrictions for a variety of reasons given the extent of disruption to people's employment to date.

The seasonal services by their nature would not have operated since those sailings would have ended last Autumn so; they have limited resources as things remain out of action for such a prolonged period. Do we want to ensure all routes including summer/seasonal remain in operation if this crisis goes on for many months? I suspect not but we need to be realistic as you could end up in a situation with some assets sold which could include vessels and route changes in a network down the line.

Tourism in Ireland will need ALL routes back up and running when the lock-down in Ireland along with other countries are eventually lifted but ferry operators/airlines/hotels etc; have major costs and may be forced to making cut-backs at head office which may be located overseas and other international routes come into their equations.

Traditionally, a lot of customers tend to make plans/book holidays between January-April for travel in high season so; while these seasonal services may not have physically operated kicked in at the start of the lock-down - the transactions to date/deferred arrangements/loss of potential future sales cannot be dismissed altogether.

This will NOT be a positive season for tourism from outside the state and it remains to be seen if residents of Ireland will have the funds to replace much of that lost income even if/when they are allowed to travel within Ireland in the months ahead (i.e.) post May Bank Holday weekend or later in the Summer/Autumn if at all! Events like Galway 2020 and it's European Capital of Culture are already realising that it is unlikely to deliver much of the programme even though it is still only April does not bode well for the 2020 Summer tourist season in Ireland.
 
« Last Edit: April 12, 2020, 12:36:09 pm by awaityourreply »



My day job is actually with an airline, so I know an awful lot more about this than, and the challenges ahead, than i want to.

The State will provide PSO funding to routes deemed essential to the states interest (Kerry - Dublin, Donegal - Dublin and Connemara - Arann Islands are the only PSO routes at the moment), and have to be tendered.
The new ferry PSO routes are different, in that the funding is short term, and to maintain supply chains.

Douglas and France are seasonal passenger orientated routes, that carry a lot of traffic outbound from Ireland. If there was funding needed to support them in the summer, that is a matter for the Manx and French governments more than the Irish government, and there are very strict rules about state aid.
What the state, ports and tourism bodies may do is offer loans with favorable terms to try help operators through what will really be a difficult summer (and into next year) no matter what happens.

The other thing is a lot of bookings for holidays will have been made at this stage, so the companies will have cash in the bank, it comes down how they manage the customers (if they can get people to accept voucher, short term that preserves cash flow).



Yeah, when the direct Cork to Dublin air connections were ceased some years ago it was due to a number of different factors: Cork Dublin motorway had cut journey times, more frequent Cork Dublin intercity rail services and they could not compete when Kerry was being subsidised through a PSO on Kerry Dublin air link which made Cork Dublin direct air connection a thing of the past. That said, I had heard recently that it was still being considered but this was probably prior to the Covid-19 Coronavirus crisis.

When the bypass for New Ross, Co. Wexford was first opened, we had an announcement of the loss of a ferry service between Cork and Santander in Spain as apparently road haulage/freight customers had expressed a preference for using Rosslare over Port of Cork although; instead of opting to go Rosslare to Santander the ferry company in question also chose to use an alternative destination port of Bilbao.

One wonders if a Cork to Bilbao would have generated better freight volumes but now we'll never know as they never tried Cork Bilbao before switching to Rosslare.

I recall when the Cork to Swansea ferry link was closed on numerous occassions over the years (i.e. under different ferry operators, first B+I Line, then Swansea Cork Car Ferries Ltd. and lastly Fastnet Line (West Cork Tourism Co-Operative Society Limited) the issue of two ferry routes departing Rosslare, both of which sail to different ports in Pembrokeshire in South Wales came up and it was always said that customers preferred the shorter sea crossings although; Rosslare is nearly always favoured over Cork by successive governments going back many years. I always preferred sailing into Cork Harbour rather than Rosslare as it was more scenic and interesting as you approached the coastline.

Given that WB Yates brought an end to Irish Ferries "Rosslare to France" route connections (Rosslare-Cherbourg and Rosslare-Roscoff) after several decades which I never thought would happen as both Rosslare and Cork have closer port connections to France but a direct Dublin Cherbourg service won out in the end. It reminds me of how Dublin Airport eventually got the routes to USA after Shannon Airport's total dominance with the mandatory stopover in earlier years. At times, I wonder how unbalanced things have become and a serious lack of major investment in key regions of the state nowadays which maintains an imbalance between Dublin and the rest of Ireland which is a pity.

When I posted my earlier contributions I had no knowledge that P+O Ferries had issues with Peel Ports and it's facilities in Liverpool. I just wondered why they were excluded as they are also an important link (maybe not as critical in terms of volume) and they operate only one direct route ex-Dublin from the Republic of Ireland to my knowledge. I know someone in one of the ferry operators who usually operate a seasonal summer service between Ireland and France in addition to other routes and I had heard that some customers have been very difficult even though all of the various ferry operators are required to follow government advisories in each state they operate to/from. I fear that the loss of tourism revenue will not recover in the short and perhaps medium term which will stifle Ireland's economy for a very long period. 
« Last Edit: April 20, 2020, 06:02:39 pm by awaityourreply »



One wonders if a Cork to Bilbao would have generated better freight volumes but now we'll never know as they never tried Cork Bilbao before switching to Rosslare.
I have a sneaky suspicion politics was involved in this decision, not just Rosslare/Bilbao ports, but also I wonder if hauliers are unhappy with the road to Ringaskiddy, especially when the container terminal is about to move there.

I recall when the Cork to Swansea ferry link was closed on numerous occassions over the years (i.e. under different ferry operators, first B+I Line, then Swansea Cork Car Ferries Ltd. and lastly Fastnet Line (West Cork Tourism Co-Operative Society Limited) the issue of two ferry routes departing Rosslare, both of which sail to different ports in Pembrokeshire in South Wales came up and it was always said that customers preferred the shorter sea crossings although;
There is more to Seansea-Cork than that. Swansea-Cork Ferries (Briar Star LTD) were profitable and did quite well on the route (even with a timetable that was a bit like a game of bingo at times). They the offer made to purchase the Superferry was just too good for them to turn down, and there was no alternative tonnage available to them.
Fastnet Line - well, we now talk about hindsight there. I always suspected a Visentini class ship would work a lot better on the route. 
That said, I have never understood the fascination with Swansea - the port is tidal, and the berth has serious limits. Cork - Fishguard/Pembrooke looks like a far more sensible route.
 
Given that WB Yates brought an end to Irish Ferries "Rosslare to France" route connections (Rosslare-Cherbourg and Rosslare-Roscoff) after several decades which I never thought would happen as both Rosslare and Cork have closer port connections to France but a direct Dublin Cherbourg service won out in the end.
Politics comes to play here too, there ICG has been unhappy with Rosslare harbour management for years, they called their bluff moving WB Yates to Dublin.

I fear that the loss of tourism revenue will not recover in the short and perhaps medium term which will stifle Ireland's economy for a very long period. 
It's hard to tell what is going to happen. At the moment, the priority is freight. I think addressing tourism is something the country (and Europe) will have to deal with once our borders are open again. I suspect the ports and Tourism Ireland will be spending a lot of money on advertising when they are.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 01:26:48 pm by Kieran »



There is no doubt that the long awaited M28 road network to Ringaskiddy has hampered the Port of Cork given that there will be a major increase in heavy goods vehicles destined for the new Cork Container Terminal down in Ringaskiddy once the current Tivoli container terminal is closed. I am old enough to recall seeing family members arriving/departing from Tivoli when the former B+I Line vessels "Innisfallen" and "Connacht" used dock closer to Cork city centre.

I travelled on the Celtic Pride vessel from Cork (Ringaskiddy) to Swansea in South Wales in 1992 with a group of scouts and we met Irish actor, Joe Lynch (who played Dinny on "Glenroe") on board. B+I Line had tried various Cork links to Wales over a number of years - first Cork to Fishguard, then Cork to Swansea and lastly Cork to Pembroke Dock before they axed all of their services from Cork after 1983 summer season. B+I Line used Penrose House on Penrose Quay as it's southern base which is where the City of Cork Steampacket Company first began AFAIK. The passenger ferries originally docked at this location before moving down river to Tivoli ferryport terminal for a period although; it eventually switched to Ringaskiddy ferryport by the early/mid '80's to date.   

I think once people arrived by ferry from Cork to Wales, they wanted a shorter drive onwards to London as the roads leading to Pembroke Dock and Fishguard were not ideal. Besides, B+I Line (later Irish Ferries) were now running a Rosslare to Pembroke Dock route option, Sealink (later Stena Line) continued to operate Rosslare to Fishguard route and Cork probably felt it was better to offer an alternative route option albeit; with the tidal restrictions at Swansea. After B+I Line left Cork there was a gap for several years before Swansea Cork Car Ferries Ltd. began around 1987/1988 and managed to operate a successful service and the sale of it's only vessel was unfortunate timing. Swansea Cork Car Ferries also did some work for Brittany Ferries back in the day possibly around the same time that Brittany Ferries operated a Cork to St. Malo service using the MV Duchess Anne around mid- '90's (in addition to Cork Roscoff). Swansea Cork Car Ferries may have provided it's vessel to ship freight for Brittany Ferries for a period.

I understand that those who operated Cork -Swansea around 2010 under the "Fastnet Line" brand did not have sufficient experience of operating a ferry business which was regrettable.

Port of Cork must have been reeling when Cork to Santander was lost to Rosslare not to mention the additional mid-week sailing to Roscoff gone with it as using the same vessel, MV Kerry.

Now you have no Brittany Ferries Cork to Roscoff route due to Covid-19 emergency plus no cruise liners arriving in to Cobh Cruise Terminal. This will be such a bleak Summer for tourism with no passenger sailings in/out of Cork and very little flight connections still operating for obvious reasons.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 05:34:51 pm by awaityourreply »



The UK Government is to review a decision to leave a key ferry route from Wales out of a scheme to help the ferries industry through the coronavirus crisis. It follows a Welsh Minister describing it as 'unacceptable, inexplicable and irresponsible' to leave out the Holyhead to Dublin route from a £17m package of aid that had been announced by the UK Government's Transport Secretary.

https://www.itv.com/news/wales/2020-04-29/holyhead-dublin-ferry-simon-hart/