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Discussion in 'Other Public Transport' started by OwlMan, 10 Oct 2017.
Is that the same Seaborne Freight that didn't own any ferries?
To be fair, that would seem to be common: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caledonian_MacBrayne Wikipedia says
I was alerted to it by the news item about the late delivery of their 2 ferries currently still being built.
Most ferry companies do not own their vessels, often chartering them from companies like Stena RoRo
Quite. Which is why I thought it wasn't really fair to have a go at Seaborne Freight on that basis... However it did turn out that they weren't even a functioning company doing anything at all!
I have no sympathy (let alone approval) for Government actions and incompetence over the last year or two, maybe 3. However I don't blame the civil servants who must be weeping (having had to carry out a long string of bizarre, inept or even basically illegal orders) I blame the politicians, specifically the party in Government.
The problem is Ramsgate port, which has severe restrictions on the vessel size (much like Newhaven) which limits what vessels they can use.
I know the MS Calais Seaways (formerly Ostend Spirit) has operated the route, about 10 years ago, however it's currently owned and operated by DFDS on their Dover-Calais route.
They did plan to use the Nord-pas-de-Calais, a former Seafrance vessel, which would fit, however this is on charter in the Med at the moment
Via Ostend used to be a useful London-Brussels train/ferry route. If the new service does take foot passengers, and if there's a good bus link from Ramsgate station to the port (it's a mile or so away, unfortunately), then (given the integrated port/station on the Belgian side already exists), it could be a helpful connection again. I realise it takes some hours longer than a Eurostar(!), but with competitive through-journey pricing it could take some of the not-so-time-sensitive market. In particular, if I want to go to Brussels at fairly short notice, then I can't currently because a last-minute Eurostar is simply beyond my budget.
It would also be useful if a foot passenger could take a bike on that route. There's lots of nice easy flat cycling to be done on a holiday in Belgium - but no way of getting there easily with your own bike (apart from on a Calais ferry and cycling from there!).
There's also the Dunkirk ferry, but I don't think it takes foot passengers
The news report is dated October 2017.
No, someone pointed out that to me recently. It does take bicycles but the first mile out of port is nasty, or two miles detour. After that, there are cycle routes or paths all the way to Belgium.
But they're not foot passengers though? Cycles you ride on the boat into the car decks.
Is this service operating then?
Where possible I recommend referring to a primary source; Wikipedia requires its authors to provide references, and it is the original references which are best linked to, and quoted from, here
No, but the comment was about foot passengers taking bikes, so I think they meant cycles really.
I seem to recall that second-hand bicycle shops were doing a roaring trade during the ash cloud incident a few years ago, as the purchase of a bicycle allowed people to go effectively as foot passengers on the large number of ferry services that do not take foot passengers but do take bicycles.
Yes - I only noticed well after I'd joined in enthusiastically... It seems the revival of the thread was just to do with ferry companies owning their boats or not, and I mistook it to mean the ferry link itself was a live discussion.
It seems it isn't currently running - as far as I can see - I wish it were, and took foot passengers!
There's just no economic case for such a ferry connection. The daytrip/foot passenger market is dead and not worth the trouble, Ramsgate is really out of the way, and for tourists/freight, it's only an extra 70km to Dunkirk over Ostend, yet it's 2 hours faster to go Dunkirk-Dover than Ostend-Ramsgate. If you count the Channel Tunnel, it's about 2-3 hours faster for the average passenger car.
There are some other issues too, such as the Port of Ostend making it clear that they won't accept any new service unless the operator pays to bring the port up to modern standards, including fencing around the perimeter. They also want pre-payment of all fees for at least a year in advance to avoid the problems that other operators had.
What might work post-Brexit is a specialist freight connection as Dover/Calais will struggle if customs clearance is involved, but it's hard to imagine a passenger car service returning to Ramsgate-Ostend.
The thing to remember with Ostend is that in previous decades, Ostend was much more convenient than Dunkirk or Calais for numerous reasons. You had customs controls on the Belgian/French border until 1993, passport controls until 1995, and even the A16 motorway between the border and Boulogne didn't open until 1993 (with the final section to Belgium opening in 1997). In real terms, a truck travelling between Ostend and Calais could take 5-6 hours once you counted the customs processing and traffic jams. Customs processing could only take place during business hours too, while Ostend and Dover/Ramsgate would be operating when the ferries were.
These days, trucks will cover the distance in about 75 minutes, not to mention that with modern JIT logistics, it's much more convenient to have the frequent departures from Calais rather than boats leaving every 2-3 hours from Ostend.
The physical size of both ports is an issue.
Ramsgate not so much, it can accommodate all but the largest of the present Dover vessels, however Ostend is not well suited to the present generation of Dover vessels, and would require berthing modifications which would still not be ideal, and then some less than ideal berthing manoeuvres, which would be very affected by weather. Granted smaller vessels could be used, however the financial metric of the route will always be compared against Calais and Dunkerque, where the bigger vessels bring a far better economy of scale, and thus a lower operating metric.
Sad as it is, as there is some fine history and nostalgia, especially with Ostend, I can't ever see it reopening.
Yes - I see all that!. Though if plane travel within Europe virtually disappears in the next few years (as it needs to if our planet is to survive), then more ferry capacity with good rail-ferry connections is going to be needed between Britain and the rest of Europe. Given that the port and railway station in Ostend are already there and well-integrated, then if (I realise it's a major "if") there were a good rail-ferry link on the British side, feeding into a fast ferry to Ostend, then that route could be a useful addition to the cross-channel and under-channel passenger capacity. The foot passenger market might be very small at present, but if people want to carry on travelling between Britain and other parts of Europe, it might well increase again in the coming years.
A thought - if this discussion about Ramsgate-Ostend is to continue, maybe it makes sense to do so in this thread (https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/rail-ferry-connections-present-and-future.189175/) about rail-ferry connections in general? (Unless there are discussions to be had about other - non-rail-passenger-related - aspects of the Ramsgate-Ostend route.)
I remember a time when there was disruption at Calais and the ferries diverted to Ostend... Townsend Thoreson (I think thats the correct name) had some new ships which went Dover Calais in about 75 minutes (the older ships took 90 minutes) but when diverted to Ostend their faster speed saw the lop an hour off the 4 hour crossing time.
I would wish that I could catch a ferry to Ostend, so that I could explore the trams. Travelling via Brussels is less convenient.
The post you have quoted was also
made in October 2017!
You can cycle on/off the Dover to Dunkirk ferry, leave your bike at the port and take the free buses to De Panne, at the end of the Belgian coastal tram
These days, because the ferry port is now almost at Gravelines not in town, you would want to ride to somewhere on the French side, possibly Dunkirk station about 15km away. Do not bet on the bike staying left there long.
I suggested taking the bus from the port as someone said the cycle ride out of the port is grim (edit...not from). It's probably easier and cheaper just to take a flixbus from London to Dunkirk or De Panne
London to Dunkerque by Flixbus involves a change in Brugge, so unless you actually want to go to Dunkerque you are likely to find a coach to De Panne, Gent or Brugge more useful.
I've cycled from Dunkerque ferry terminal to Belgium but won't do that again, thanks to the hazardous road immediately after the ferry.
That bit is bad but the road in the other direction (east?) is much quieter and connects to even quieter smaller roads. The bad road on the Belgian side of the border now has a cycling bypass too if you turn right immediately on the border.
You may as well post hypothetical transport needs for a nuclear apocalypse, which has an equal chance of happening as air travel virtually disappearing in Europe and everyone returning to passenger modes favoured in the 1930s.
If the ecological crisis we face is serious - and it certainly is - then some things are going to have to change. Current levels of consumption (in the broadest sense) by current numbers of people is - literally - not sustainable. If we don't - individually and collectively - make major changes quite quickly, then far more uncomfortable changes might be forced on us. If we choose to do things before they're forced on us, then the changes might be organised in a pleasanter way!
The road through the the industrial estate is indeed grim - and you're sharing it with mostly lorries. However, it is possible to ride along the sea wall (there are bridges, despite what Google Maps seems to indicate). It's hardly the Amalfi Coast, but it's an awful lot nicer than the Grande Synthe.
Your main risk with this route is being stuck if one of the sea locks is operated and the bridge raised. Those ships take a while to get out.
It is not a risk but a certainty because the Charles de Gaulle bridge at the Dunkerque end has been raised since it was condemned in 2016. There is a facebook group of supporters of reopening it at https://www.facebook.com/diguedubreak/
Until then, I would suggest to ride the small roads to the east to the D601 cycleway, through Grande-Synthe centre (which is better than the edges but like many British late-1900s towns) and then left to join the new cycleways beside the D601 bypassing Petite-Synthe past the station and then along the quays to join the rail trail to almost Belgium.