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Another ferry service bites the dust

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Steven

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http://www.dfdsgroup.com/News/Latest/20140429/
Quote
New sulphur rules cause closure of the Harwich-Esbjerg ferry route
DFDS' historic passenger ferry route between Harwich and Esbjerg has been struggling for a long time with high costs, loss of passengers and freight being switched to road transport. The route is therefore unable to bear the substantial additional costs that a new environmental law will entail. It will close on 29 September 2014. DFDS is now gathering its efforts to secure the major freight route between Esbjerg and Immingham and the many jobs that this route also generates.

Unfortunately, 29 September will mark the end of an era and the possibility of sailing directly from Harwich to Esbjerg, Denmark, on the historic ferry route that opened in 1875 with the inauguration of the port of Esbjerg.

The loss of tax-free sales and increasing competition from low-cost airlines mean that passenger numbers have fallen from 300,000 to around 80,000. Transport of industrial cargo between the UK and Denmark has also declined.

DFDS has worked hard to cut costs on the route to make it more competitive. Among other tactics, the route was changed into a combined freight and passenger service, the number of crew on board was reduced, slow steaming was introduced to save fuel, the number of departures was decreased and centralised sales tried to increase passenger numbers with aggressive marketing. "But unfortunately we haven't been able to reduce costs enough to enable the route to bear the very high additional costs of around 2m a year," says DFDS CEO Niels Smedegaard. "This is what the new environmental law and the requirement to use low-sulphur oil will cost based on current oil prices from 1 January 2015.

"The route is of particular historical significance to DFDS so it's a very sad day for us all. Our regrets go to our many passengers who must now see the last passenger ferry route between the UK and Scandinavia close. It's also regrettable that up to 130 jobs on board and ashore will be affected by the closure, even though we are fortunate that we can offer jobs to everyone onboard on other routes."

The Esbjerg-Immingham freight route
DFDS will do everything to ensure freight customers still receive a good service on the freight route between Esbjerg and Immingham. The two big and modern vessels offer a daily departure each way with a crossing time of 18 hours. "This route will also be hit by the substantial extra costs as a result of the new sulphur rules. We therefore need to keep a tight focus on costs to prevent the transfer of freight to road transport that will otherwise become a consequence of the new sulphur rules. We will therefore step up negotiations with employees, partners and other stakeholders to find solutions to reduce costs and increase flexibility. That will help us ensure the route's development as an important transport route between the UK and Denmark - and also as an important employment base," says Niels Smedegaard.

Alternative passenger routes
DFDS Seaways operates a number of passenger routes from the UK to France and Holland, including our daily Newcastle-Amsterdam service on the North Sea and our frequent cross Channel services from Dover to Dunkirk and Calais in France, which comprise up to 44 sailings a day. We also operate two ferry routes into France across the Western Channel, which sail from Newhaven to Dieppe and Portsmouth to Le Havre on a daily basis. These routes enable us to continue to provide our passengers with a choice of convenient entry points into Continental Europe and beyond.

SIRENA SEAWAYS, the vessel which has served the route since 2003, will be moved to other duties.

For further media information, please contact
Jade Page or Caroline Walker 
01732 779 087
email [email protected]
Steve in Belfast (suburbia)

Webmaster of www.niferry.co.uk
Flickr: www.flickr.com/tarbyonline

TC

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DFDS has been hanging out too much with P&O! Events like this make me wonder how sound is Hull - Zeebrugge, and what the chances are of the Bruges and York being replaced.

Of all companies DFDS I didn't have down as one that would rationalise. But judging from that article, and the good old airlines (nothing like a low cost airline to finish a ferry route!), and lack of numbers, the route seems to share the same problems that P&O faced with Portsmouth - Bilbao, and the thirsty old Pride of Bilbao. It also reminds me of Pride of Cherbourg (Isle of Innisfree) on the Ports - Cherbourg.

The environmental requirements will probably see off much of the good oldies.

Steven

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DFDS has been hanging out too much with P&O! Events like this make me wonder how sound is Hull - Zeebrugge, and what the chances are of the Bruges and York being replaced.

Of all companies DFDS I didn't have down as one that would rationalise. But judging from that article, and the good old airlines (nothing like a low cost airline to finish a ferry route!), and lack of numbers, the route seems to share the same problems that P&O faced with Portsmouth - Bilbao, and the thirsty old Pride of Bilbao. It also reminds me of Pride of Cherbourg (Isle of Innisfree) on the Ports - Cherbourg.

The environmental requirements will probably see off much of the good oldies.
Personally I think the EU are just a very convenient scapegoat.  Interesting that they are withdrawing the route well prior to the new regs coming in.  Wonder how much it has been loosing.  The ship ramming Harwich probably didn't help their tourist numbers much either!
Steve in Belfast (suburbia)

Webmaster of www.niferry.co.uk
Flickr: www.flickr.com/tarbyonline

Collision-course

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I was in the UK over the last few days , I notice a growing momentum behind the idea of the UK withdrawing from the EU in 2017 , should that happen it would be a bonanza for ferry companies operating into and out of the UK as duty free sales would again be permitted and the new emissions rules will probarbly not apply to many routes should the UK withdraw.
Interestingly , while I cant go into details (confidentially clauses) I was there to give input into considerations of a very large company entering the ferry market , what I can say is that if it gets the go ahead it will be 4-5 years before operations commence as this company has no interest in second-hand tonnage and wants to build new (and the designs it has on the table are VERY exciting).
I can say that the cost of getting the maritime division up and running is around 2 billion Euro , astonishingly most of which is in place.
Last Edit: May 01, 2014, 12:03:08 AM by Collision-course

Steven

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DFDS has been hanging out too much with P&O! Events like this make me wonder how sound is Hull - Zeebrugge, and what the chances are of the Bruges and York being replaced.

Of all companies DFDS I didn't have down as one that would rationalise. But judging from that article, and the good old airlines (nothing like a low cost airline to finish a ferry route!), and lack of numbers, the route seems to share the same problems that P&O faced with Portsmouth - Bilbao, and the thirsty old Pride of Bilbao. It also reminds me of Pride of Cherbourg (Isle of Innisfree) on the Ports - Cherbourg.

The environmental requirements will probably see off much of the good oldies.

There's a lot of services between the UK and Zeebrugge for freight so it would be no surprise to me if P&O did decide to call it a day on Hull-Zeebrugge, certainly in its current form given the cost of replacement tonnage and the cost of bunkers running all the way up to Hull.  Perhaps a freight only service would be more viable though or a ropax style operation such as that run by Stena between Belfast and Liverpool and now Rosslare and Cherbourg?

Given the timing of the withdrawal it would be no surprise to me if Sirena Seaways becomes the new Portsmouth to LeHavre vessel.  Its a heck of a coincidence that this service ends just as LeHavre needs a replacement vessel, and that Sirena Seaways is very similar in style to the Norman Voyager/Eteretat.
Steve in Belfast (suburbia)

Webmaster of www.niferry.co.uk
Flickr: www.flickr.com/tarbyonline

TC

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Sounds very convenient, Sirena becoming available when Le Havre needs a new vessel.

To be honest I'm not sure what P&O would put on Hull - Zeebrugge to replace the Bruges and York. A conversion of freighters, perhaps Norsky and Norstream, along the lines of the Darwins, though not with such a high passenger cert. Two new freighters to fill the void left by Norsky and Norstream. Though they are now 15 years old so how viable a conversion would be is another matter.

Certainly my gut feeling is P&O wont be ordering anything along the lines of Bruges and York. The lock also causes limitations. Fuel efficiency is another matter, or another nail in the coffin. Stena pulled the plug on the Discovery for this reason.

On another note, I see Norman Leader, now Nova Star has finally arrived with her new owners. Only taken 4 years! I'm surprised Stena wasn't interested. I though she would have made a good replacement for Stena Europe, Epsilion, or Oscar Wilde. I heard she had build issues, but I'm guessing they have been ironed out.   
Last Edit: May 01, 2014, 11:05:49 PM by TC

Collision-course

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I believe Stena did inspect the cancelled LD LInes vessel but rejected it as unsuitable , not sure if "unsuitable" means not suited to their operational needs or dont think the design is any good.

Steven

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I believe Stena did inspect the cancelled LD LInes vessel but rejected it as unsuitable , not sure if "unsuitable" means not suited to their operational needs or dont think the design is any good.

I got the impression she was a bit of a lemon.  It took them a while to sell it as well!  IIRC there where problems with build quality.
Steve in Belfast (suburbia)

Webmaster of www.niferry.co.uk
Flickr: www.flickr.com/tarbyonline

Collision-course

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Indeed , one of the surveyors who examined the five Fastnet Line candidates in 2009 had seen the LD lines hull and was not impressed at all , aside from poor build quality there were issues around the vessel being over its design weight and was also unable to reach the service speed specified in the contract , I would think sitting around unfinished for so many years did'nt do it any favors either.
I would suspect that if Stena did'nt want it at the knocked down price it was being offered for it must have been quite poor.

Steven

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Indeed , one of the surveyors who examined the five Fastnet Line candidates in 2009 had seen the LD lines hull and was not impressed at all , aside from poor build quality there were issues around the vessel being over its design weight and was also unable to reach the service speed specified in the contract , I would think sitting around unfinished for so many years did'nt do it any favors either.
I would suspect that if Stena did'nt want it at the knocked down price it was being offered for it must have been quite poor.
They even took Hoa Sen with a big hole in her hull and a colony of rats on board ;).  In all seriousness I think Stena can be quite choosy what they take regardless of price due to the Stenability thing.  Given the problems already known about she was going to be a big gamble for anyone.  I wonder if LD where offered her at a bargain basement price due to her defects and still rejected her?  We can only imagine what other defects may (or not) be lying under the skin just waiting to be discovered!

Stena have issued a press release on their freight site about the closure of the link.  As I alluded to above Stena have an arrangement where they sell space on Sirena Seaways
http://www.stenalinefreight.com/ferry/press/pressreleaser/esbjerg-harwich-closing/
Steve in Belfast (suburbia)

Webmaster of www.niferry.co.uk
Flickr: www.flickr.com/tarbyonline