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Future of sea services up for debate


GaryPotter
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We all seem to forget that the last time we had competition ended badly and that we now have more frequent all year round sailings than we did with the steam packet in the late 1970's or any time since

Unless you want to travel to Ireland outside of the summer months, and even then it is limited

 

The Irish routes lose money and are largely a waste of time.

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Competition is a non-starter. There isn't enough business.

 

The reason we have such a frequent service year round now compared to past years is that we have one ro-pax vessel and no passenger ships outside the summer season. The passenger accommodation on the Ben is nothing to write home about compared to the King Orry that it replaced. OK this is reality in today's market. We have combined the freight and passenger sailings so let us not pretend that services have been upgraded.

 

If we are not worried about having the seasonal fast craft, then perhaps we could ask the Steam Packet to keep the Ben in service rather than as a standby (she is only middle aged) along with a new similar vessel. Perhaps with only 2 vessels rather than 3 to worry about, and without the burden of the fast craft fuel cost, the Steam Packet could look afresh at their charges and make their offer more attractive.

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I have to agree competition is not the answer.

 

We only need to look back at the old Monte Castillo aka the Viking to see the impact of two companies running on the same routes and that was at a time when there was a lot more demand from the dregs of bucket and spade tourism.

 

Acquiring the land is the right thing to do. 15m although optimistic would give us a decent asset that is not exclusive to the Steam Packet. It could be used by other operators. If nothing else it secures the long-term future of that route.

 

While the company remains under private equity or bank ownership we are going to get at the very best a decent operating company and service. While local or public ownership doesn’t magically fix anything it does bring the companies focus back on its local market. The devil in me says we should pull enough strings to devalue the company as an asset then look at a joint public/private takeover with another operator.

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So, what's it to be in LPL.... ROPAX or just PAX?

 

If it's PAX only then it's a waste of money. What's the point of securing land for a PAX only operation? There nothing remotely strategic about that.

 

I agree with John W insofar as the fast craft is concerned.... it doesn't work. 2 x conventional ROPAX would. But that requires both UK ports to have freight marshalling areas and that won't work at the half tide dock as it's predominantly residential.

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So, what's it to be in LPL.... ROPAX or just PAX?

 

If it's PAX only then it's a waste of money. What's the point of securing land for a PAX only operation? There nothing remotely strategic about that.

 

I agree with John W insofar as the fast craft is concerned.... it doesn't work. 2 x conventional ROPAX would. But that requires both UK ports to have freight marshalling areas and that won't work at the half tide dock as it's predominantly residential.

This is a good point. It was mentioned in the debate that freight movements to and from the new terminal would be a no no. So if the fast craft becomes obsolete, what sort of vessel are we going to operate to it? It could become a white elephant.

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So, what's it to be in LPL.... ROPAX or just PAX?

 

If it's PAX only then it's a waste of money. What's the point of securing land for a PAX only operation? There nothing remotely strategic about that.

 

I agree with John W insofar as the fast craft is concerned.... it doesn't work. 2 x conventional ROPAX would. But that requires both UK ports to have freight marshalling areas and that won't work at the half tide dock as it's predominantly residential.

This is a good point. It was mentioned in the debate that freight movements to and from the new terminal would be a no no. So if the fast craft becomes obsolete, what sort of vessel are we going to operate to it? It could become a white elephant.

 

 

This really is a tail wagging the dog scenario.

 

Given the IOMSPCo precarious financial position IOMG should do nothing. Instead they should look at what needs to be done to Douglas harbour to take larger conventional vessels, that would then allow the likes of Stenna et al to operate in/out of the Island with a triangulated service or sorts. That way there would be at least one Irish port of call included.

 

The LPL land purchase scenario will end in tears.

 

ETA: If there must be capital expenditure then it should be on the Island, something that Tynwald has control over. Similarly, IOMSPCo is not a Manx company, despite what the name might say. Sadly I think IOMSPCo has had it's day. Time for new thinking.

Edited by Andy Onchan
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Depends what you mean by conventional

 

There's big change in favour of green ship design at the moment

 

It would make sense - if the harbour is somehow developed to accept bigger ships - that one large freight carrying ropax is acquired

 

& a smallish energy efficient all season fast-ish car carrying craft to service Liverpool, Belfast & Dublin be found

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I'd prefer IOMSPC didn't get caught up wasting vast amounts of money on "green" boats because i'll end up paying for it. And we'll all end up moaning about it.

Any new boat(s) will have to be green. There are international treaty obligations, not just EU, and any IoM boat sailing into Dublin will have to be EU compliant, Brexit or no.

 

It's one of the issues with the Ben and Mannanan, they'll have to be greened at some stage, and given their age and expected life it isn't economically worthwhile.

 

A landing stage in Liverpool that doesn't accommodate freight is a nonsense.

 

A pax/cars only faster conventional craft makes no sense either.

 

Turning to my earlier post not only are sailings more frequent the annual cumulative total year round is more today with only two boats than in the 1960's with 8. Remember for 6 months a year we got 10 single crossings a week. We now get 26 single crossings a week in those 6 months.

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on this occasion I would like to see the racket go bust. then a 'new' company consisting of the existing staff buy what assets there actually are from the liquidator and get to start fresh without the huge weight of debt the current company has.

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It's one of the issues with the Ben and Mannanan, they'll have to be greened at some stage, and given their age and expected life it isn't economically worthwhile.

Existing vessels will have grandfather rights for their lifetime. Similar to old locomotives. One of the reasons that early 1960s locos are still hard at work on UK railways is because if they bought new they would have to conform to prohibitively expensive emissions limits. So to avoid this you use something that is 10 times worse that doesn't have to comply because of its age.

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