Rail-ferry connections - present and future

Discussion in 'International Transport' started by AlbertBeale, 16 Aug 2019.

  1. AlbertBeale

    AlbertBeale Member

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    A number of threads (including some I've posted on) in this International Transport section, and elsewhere on the forums, have touched on - in various ways and to various degrees - connections between trains and ferries. (So, I'm not thinking just specifically of train ferries which carry rail vehicles on them.)

    Given the need (in my view!) for surface transport to take over from most air transport within Europe, I'm interested in attempts to improve or reintroduce links between trains and ferries, of the sort which used to be more common. (Rare current examples of a pretty easy link in the UK are at Harwich PQ, to Hook of Holland, and at Portsmouth Harbour station, to Ryde Pierhead.)

    Given geography, this need applies especially (though not exclusively) to these islands off the north-west coast of Europe - both within these islands and connecting to mainland Europe.

    I realise that some ideas about this might be best in a Speculative Ideas thread, but some proposals which might seem far-fetched now could seem inevitable once they're in place and we're used to them. Over to the rest of you.
     
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  3. duesselmartin

    duesselmartin Member

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    Not many routes come to mind and often it is easier to step off a train and onto a ferry as its done in Holyhead.
     
  4. AlbertBeale

    AlbertBeale Member

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    Sorry - I guess my post was confusing. That's what I meant, being able to step off a train and onto a boat - though I think Holyhead isn't quite a simple as it used to be for this (isn't there a shuttle bus now??).

    What I'm looking for is integrated stations/ports where the train drops you virtually by the access to the boat - as per Portsmouth Harbour - rather than places like Dover now where, since Western Docks station closed, there's no direct rail-boat interchange.
     
  5. leshuttle

    leshuttle Member

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    Back when there was the Stena HSS Explorer I think there was the purpose built connection with no less than two foot passenger ramps directly onto the ship linked to the rail station terminal. Now it's just a pair of very elderly shuttle buses shuttling passengers to and from the car deck.
     
  6. Struner

    Struner Member

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    & before that you could find yourself on the Hoek van Holland-Warschau expres to get to the ferry.
    Nowadays they are struggling to get a tram operating.
    & it looks as if this is the trend: fewer & fewer foot passengers. There is no bus connection to the evening ferry in Thurso anymore, so you have to take a taxi. & you better order it beforehand!
     
  7. hilly

    hilly Member

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    Fishguard harbour is one enclosed building - step to the platform, up a ramp and you are on the boat, Holyhead now requires a shuttle bus transfer as the current vessels are too big to use the inner harbour, and they dock about 500m away on a purpose built linkspan
     
  8. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    No, Fishguard you now board a shuttle bus that drives onto the ferry (was the case back in May when I used it. The same bus goes on the ship and drives off at the other end! Probably crosses the Irish Sea more than any other road vehicle!
     
  9. Steamysandy

    Steamysandy Member

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    There is still a bus connection to the evening ferry from Thurso-I have a friend who uses it regularly.
    The Hoek Van Holland connection is now a mess it appears but withdrawal of ferries is what has cut many of the routes such as Harwich - Esbjerg and Dover - Oostende not forgetting Sheerness - Vlissingen
     
  10. AlbertBeale

    AlbertBeale Member

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    The train connection from HvH is restarting at the end of next month - though as a part of the Rotterdam Metro; but at least there's immediate access from the boat to the metro train, and the latter serves Shiedam station a little way along the line, which has frequent trains to all over the Netherlands. I saw somewhere that although it's only normally for metro services, heavy duty trains can still use the line - or at least part of it - for access to freight facilities along that route. (Though they'd need diesel haulage for that bit since the voltage the metro uses is different from that used by "real" trains in NL.) So perhaps, at least in theory, long-distance international through coaches from HvH dock to all over northern Europe could still be possible again one day.

    Harwich-Esbjerg and Dover-Ostend were both routes I used to use, and they could well do with reviving as air travel within Europe is phased out. Ostend is such a waste, having an integrated port / rail station / tram & bus station (which was being upgraded/modernised only a few years ago) ... but with no passenger ferries there for years! That used to be my main cheapo route from London to Brussels - the overnight boat, and a smoke-ridden commuter train on the early morning run into Brussels.

    I once used the little ferry across the mouth of the estuary from Vlissingen to that bit of the Netherlands surrounded by Belgium and water, but never did Sheerness (at least not in the Vlissingen context).
     
  11. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    I think we have to accept that most remaining ferries operate primarily for road traffic, hence the tendency to relocate away from cramped sites adjacent to rail stations and in town centres (Dieppe...) and to schedule services to suit road users (Sassnitz-Trelleborg is a classic example, at least it still takes trains!).
    Often larger ferries have been introduced, requiring deeper berths.

    Many busy ferry crossings have been replaced by fixed links, or will be. Sicily is one island that looks likely to remain rail-and-ferry connected for years to come, though.
     
  12. AlbertBeale

    AlbertBeale Member

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    Yes - I remember Newhaven-Dieppe ... my cheap overnight route to Paris years ago, with completely integrated connections at each end. I more than once got the train on the quayside in Dieppe that then trundled along the road past people's windows pre-dawn, on its way to the main line and Paris. An extremely useful (and cheap) London-Paris link - at least when I minded less about getting very little sleep all night!

    I take the point that vehicles are the main reason a ferry operates (in most cases), so they'll organise themselves on that basis, despite meaning they're less convenient for foot passengers. (Though they don't have to make it so hard for foot passengers, as some do!)

    Replacing train ferries with fixed links is fine (though less fun....), and indeed replacing walk-on-and-off ferries with fixed rail links is no bad thing either. But there are going to be plenty of routes where the train-ferry combination is still a useful direct route, and a fixed link isn't going to happen, and a "proper" train ferry isn't on either (UK-Esbjerg, various Britain-Ireland, other Channel routes besides the existing tunnel) - and in these cases facilitating good rail-boat passenger interchange really should be more of a priority. (In my view!)
     
  13. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Dover - Ostend was phased out because of, err, the train....

    And air travel within Europe isn’t going to be phased out.
     
  14. AlbertBeale

    AlbertBeale Member

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    I take the point about Dover-Ostend being a bit redundant given the trains to Brussels! I wasn't suggesting that as a priority to improve the connection, more using it as an example of how good connections can work.

    As to air travel within Europe - if it isn't largely phased out, then we might as well give up on having a sustainable future. Our species can't carry on operating in a way that would only work if the planet had several times the capacity - or there were far far fewer of us!
     
  15. BigCj34

    BigCj34 Member

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    There is also Heysham for the Isle of Man.

    Most ports seem tobhave a bus at least. Portsmouth International for France or Jersey is 5 minutes to walk from the nearest bus stop. Newcastle and Hull have a bus for foot passengers from the train station, Cairnryan has the Ayr bus link for the railway otherwise Citylink serves it. Poole requires a 30 minute walk though while not sure if Dover or Belfast have a shuttle bus either.

    Usually though there are ways to get to the ports by public transport. Which port should have a train station though is debatable.
     
    Last edited: 17 Aug 2019
  16. AlbertBeale

    AlbertBeale Member

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    Yes - I'd forgotten Heysham-IoM, which I gather is efficiently train-connected; I've never used the route personally.

    Yes, there are bus links in some places, but that's all extra faff compared with the relatively seamless links where you virtually walk off the train onto the boat; these have been disappearing. I think they should be (re-)instituted wherever possible, as a priority (to make alternatives to flying as convenient as possible) - as the next best thing to an actual train ferry of course. As someone else has said, carrots and sticks (not to mention chickens and eggs).

    Some of the bus links can be hopeless these days: the dedicated bus link from Dover Priory to the docks has gone, and there's no regular bus route from near the station to near the docks (let alone into the docks). It's now as quick to walk as anything else, really (if you can manage that).

    And yes, Poole for boats to the CI is dreadful!

    Southampton has a decent bus connection between the train station and the dock for the ferries to Cowes on the IoW; but it still feels a fuss compared to, eg, Portsmouth-Ryde with the integrated station/dock at each end.
     
  17. AlbertBeale

    AlbertBeale Member

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    Further thoughts on this ... an analogy is perhaps changing trains where you have to change stations.

    One major deterrent to people moving around Europe by rail (I find, when encouraging friends who aren't regular international railway travellers to use trains) is non-same-station-connections. I know people who're really put off by needing to change stations in Paris, for example. (Indeed that isn't much fun sometimes if you're laden and without much time.) And having boat-train links where you have to make a significant transfer between them is in the same sort of category.
     
  18. BigCj34

    BigCj34 Member

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    Stranraer for instance only lost 5000 passengers a year when ferry services moved to Cairnryan. If the Port Road line was reopened then a link to Cairnryan could be part of the package but I could only see Port Road happening if there was a fixed rail link built to NI anyway.

    It's difficult to see which port without a station has the best business case. Maybe there should be more integrated Sailrail tickets that facilitate transfers from the nearest station to the port, and in the event of a delay a passenger can get the next service or stay overnight if needed.
     
  19. JonasB

    JonasB Member

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    On the Helsingborg-Helsingør ferry, the railway stations and ferry terminals are in the same buildings and the transfer is very easy.
     
  20. Struner

    Struner Member

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    At Eemshaven a new station was opened last year, to connect with the international ferry to Borkum. & once there, you take the train to Stadt (as they call it :rolleyes: )
     
  21. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Thanks for the reminder, hadn't thought of the islands. Borkum is the only East Frisian island which is rail connected at the island and mainland end - doubly so now. Norddeich Mole and Dagebuell Mole are mainland ferry terminals but their islands no longer have railways.

    Another good rail/sea example is Flam in Norway - but AFAIK it is (now) purely for tourist shipping not local traffic.

    If we're allowed to include lakes, then the Swiss lakes have some good examples, but the only one that carries non-tourist traffic is on the Bodensee/Lake Constance from Romanshorn to Friedrichshafen Hafen.
     
  22. Struner

    Struner Member

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    Terschelling & Vlieland can be reached by ferry from Harlingen Haven, a few minutes walk. But there never have been rail/tramways for public transport on the Frisian islands in NL. But military’s affairs during WW2. I think whatever it was on Norderney was only for the military as well, so dismantled after 1945.
     
  23. duesselmartin

    duesselmartin Member

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    Rosslare Ireland has a poorly served rail station and it used to be right in the terminal. Sadly that was moved out despite the fact that Europort is operated by Irish Rail.
    What is the Fishgard/Pembroke ends like?
     
  24. AlbertBeale

    AlbertBeale Member

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    Yes - perhaps because before they built the famous bridge from Copenhagen to Malmo, the Helsingborg-Helsingør ferry was a train ferry carrying the Denmark-Sweden trains. I used that route on a through train which powered very quickly and efficiently on and off the boat for the short crossing. So when the through trains stopped I guess they left the stations where the trains had gone anyway!
     
  25. AlbertBeale

    AlbertBeale Member

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    Thanks for that info - just the sort of initiative I think should be encouraged! It shows what can be done with the right political will.
     
  26. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Fishguard is OK. Pembroke was never rail connected, and AFAIK has only been a ferry terminal for 30-40 years.
     
  27. hilly

    hilly Member

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    I think that may be while Nordica is covering Stena Europe on the route while Europe is being refitted
     
  28. JonasB

    JonasB Member

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    True, but at least in Helsingborg is was built with foot passengers in mind when the station(s) was rebuilt in the late 80's and the two stations was replaced with one.
     
  29. U-Bahnfreund

    U-Bahnfreund Member

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    Er komt nu aan: Metro B naar Nesselande via Schiedam Centrum, Beurs en Station Alexander, met direkte rijtuigen naar Amsterdam, København via Hamburg, Warszawa via Berlijn en Frankfurt via Keulen. Reist u met uw ov-chipkaart, verget u niet intechecken!

    Now arriving: metro B to Nesselande, via Schiedam Centrum, Beurs and Alexander station, with through coaches to Amsterdam, Copenhagen via Hamburg, Warsaw via Berlin and Frankfurt via Cologne. If you're travelling with an OV chipcard, do not forget to check in!

    :D
     
  30. AlbertBeale

    AlbertBeale Member

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    Now I know what I'll be dreaming on the night boat from Harwich!
     
    Last edited: 20 Aug 2019
  31. dutchflyer

    dutchflyer Member

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    In both cities the stations are well in the midst of town without any chance of realigning the rails anyway. On the swedish side there is even a large integrated all-transport and shopping kind of terminal. though there have been some ideas about building anohter underground railway there too.
    in fact IF such an easy connection still exists, its nearly all former regular near-through route. Improvements I do not really know of, I consider f.e. the situation at Dover with shuttle buses etc. not any better as was long ago. Thus no surprise that most examples come fro your UK-island.
    Well organised such connections also exist at several ports in Japan, where shipping once also was a big transport feature, even along the islands coast. And in FInland where the ferries from Sweden land (Turku, formerly Naantali), but here also rails right untill beside the ships have been torn out.
    Thing of long past; Istanbul Haydarpasha and Sirkeci (there is now a tunnel-urban railway).
    Near extinct, or possibly even already so, Trelleborg in south-Sweden (former DDR-ferries to Sassnitz-there was a good transfer with also trains on the ferry long ago there, but moved on De-side to a carpor some 6-7 kms away and without even an dediciated buslink.
     

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