Trains on boats? (Trivia)

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Howardh

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Reading Wiki r/e the good old Twickenham Ferry (died 1974) registered in Dunkirk, reminded me in those days I saw many a cross channel ferry with rail tracks in them. Can't ever recall seeing a train on them, let alone one being loaded on/off, but must have happened.

Has anyone here experiences in that direction....why would trains be loaded onto boats (just cargo?) and does it still happen - if not in the UK then anywhere in the world and, er, why? Is it cheaper to carry cargo that way than to offload onto a ferry; or is everything containerised now?

Would they ever have been used for passengers, to keep them on the same train?
 
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Western Lord

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Reading Wiki r/e the good old Twickenham Ferry (died 1974) registered in Dunkirk, reminded me in those days I saw many a cross channel ferry with rail tracks in them. Can't ever recall seeing a train on them, let alone one being loaded on/off, but must have happened.

Has anyone here experiences in that direction....why would trains be loaded onto boats (just cargo?) and does it still happen - if not in the UK then anywhere in the world and, er, why? Is it cheaper to carry cargo that way than to offload onto a ferry; or is everything containerised now?

Would they ever have been used for passengers, to keep them on the same train?

I take it that you never travelled from London to Paris on the Night Ferry!
 

Dr Hoo

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There is still a train ferry for freight wagons between North Island and South Island in New Zealand. However, the service has had a lot of problems in recent years and in the face of the cost of brand new bespoke vessels to modernise it is likely that there will be a conversion to containers and other swap bodies, transferred on trailers (rather than a lift-on/lift-off operation).
 

Altnabreac

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You need to go to Italy, the train to Sicily from Messina goes by boat...

https://www.raileurope.com/blog/815...ry-from-messina-to-sicily-2?country_origin=GB

A few years ago I caught the Turin to Palermo sleeper (now sadly no more), a 19 hour epic involving the straits of Messina.

Another one is from Rodby - Puttgarden between Denmark and Germany. You need to get your skates on to visit here as a new fixed link is planned to open in 2021.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogelfluglinie

Also used the train ferry from Helsingborg to Helsingor on a sleeper from Stockholm to Copenhagen. That route is now completely gone post Oresund.
 

signol

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I travelled from Copenhagen to Hamburg a few years ago, and the train travelled on the ferry with us from Rodby to Puttgarten. The crossing was about 45 mins I recall. Everyone had to get off the train in the car deck, and get back on board when drivers returned to their vehicles.
The train was a DSB DMU.

signol
 

edwin_m

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I travelled on a train ferry on a journey between Copenhagen and Esbjerg in 1983, when the whole train went on board and I think you could stay on or alight during the crossing. There was also a ferry between Helsingor and Helsingborg, for wagons only I think. Both now replaced by bridges.

There were train ferries for goods wagons from Dover and Harwich until the opening of the Channel Tunnel. Rather ironically the result was the loss of some goods traffic to rail, as hazardous cargoes could not go through the Tunnel and it would have been uneconomic to keep the ferry operation going just for those. At least one ferry complete with rails on the decks continue to operate carrying road trucks.

I saw one also when I visited Istanbul in 2012 though it looked derelict. If it was still running then it probably ceased on opening of the tunnel under the Bosporus.
 

gordonthemoron

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Done Rodby to Puttgarten and also Mukran (Sassnitz)- Trelleborg on a sleeper, we were allowed to stay on the sleeper during the crossing
 

LNW-GW Joint

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I travelled from Copenhagen to Hamburg a few years ago, and the train travelled on the ferry with us from Rodby to Puttgarten. The crossing was about 45 mins I recall. Everyone had to get off the train in the car deck, and get back on board when drivers returned to their vehicles.
The train was a DSB DMU.

Yes,I've done that too. The trains run directly on to the ferry.
The trains are currently 4-car ICE-TD tilting DEMUs built for DB but leased to DSB.
However they are about to be replaced by DSB IC3 DMUs, with the ICE-TDs scrapped.

Unlike the Puttgarden-Rødby crossing, I think the Messina strait train ferry to Sicily requires the passengers to get off before the train is shunted on board the ferry, and the reverse on the other side.
 

Shaw S Hunter

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I travelled from Copenhagen to Hamburg a few years ago, and the train travelled on the ferry with us from Rodby to Puttgarten. The crossing was about 45 mins I recall. Everyone had to get off the train in the car deck, and get back on board when drivers returned to their vehicles.
The train was a DSB DMU.

signol

DMU?! Much more fun loco-hauled; big DB 232s or DSB MZs shunting their trains on/off the boat. Crossing just long enough for a proper sit-down curry in the ship's cafeteria. Happy days!
 

randyrippley

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the St Elois still exists, though the tramlines were plated over during her days based at Douglas as the King Orry - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Moby_Love
Wiki reckons the St Elois was in TOPS as a locomotive as it hauled trains......anyone know the number?

and last time I was at Barrow in Furness there was an old Nordic train ferry in use as a restaurant. Anyone know if it was the ship used in the Telemark film?
 

najaB

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They also use train boats in Alaska to bring trains up from the lower 48.
 

Shimbleshanks

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Reading Wiki r/e the good old Twickenham Ferry (died 1974) registered in Dunkirk, reminded me in those days I saw many a cross channel ferry with rail tracks in them. Can't ever recall seeing a train on them, let alone one being loaded on/off, but must have happened.

Has anyone here experiences in that direction....why would trains be loaded onto boats (just cargo?) and does it still happen - if not in the UK then anywhere in the world and, er, why? Is it cheaper to carry cargo that way than to offload onto a ferry; or is everything containerised now?

Would they ever have been used for passengers, to keep them on the same train?

The ferry you saw was probably the Nord Pas De Calais, which was a freight-only ferry capable of carrying rail freight vehicles and/or road trucks. She would never have carried passenger rail vehicles, the Night Ferry service between London and Paris have ceased a few years earlier, in about 1980.

She was introduced in the late 1980s prior to the opening of the Channel Tunnel but after the Tunnel's opening carried only road trucks, and the rail linkspans at Dover and Dunkirk were taken out of use. (Although I believe the parts of the Dover linkspan were retained in dismantled form until fairly recently.)

As a truck ferry, the Nord Pas De Calais remained in service into quite recently, latterly ending up in the fleet of the now defunct MyFerryLink, ironically owned by the Tunnel operator, Eurotunnel. Last I heard she was laid up somewhere looking for a possible buyer.
 

Altnabreac

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Yes,I've done that too. The trains run directly on to the ferry.
The trains are currently 4-car ICE-TD tilting DEMUs built for DB but leased to DSB.
However they are about to be replaced by DSB IC3 DMUs, with the ICE-TDs scrapped.

Unlike the Puttgarden-Rødby crossing, I think the Messina strait train ferry to Sicily requires the passengers to get off before the train is shunted on board the ferry, and the reverse on the other side.

When I did Messina we were shunted onto the ferry while still in the sleeper carriages but did have to go up on deck for the crossing.

A slightly more ramshackle train ferry I did a few years ago was from Baku in Azerbaijan to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan. Was only freight traffic using the rail element of the ferry at that point in time.
 

Bald Rick

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I travelled on a train ferry on a journey between Copenhagen and Esbjerg in 1983, when the whole train went on board and I think you could stay on or alight during the crossing. There was also a ferry between Helsingor and Helsingborg, for wagons only I think. Both now replaced by bridges.

The train ferry between Helsingør and Helsingborg was definitely for passenger trains too; I used it both ways in 1991. Passengers could stay on the train as well (as we did between Puttgarden and Rødby on the same trip).

The odd thing about Helsingborg, which I remember vividly, was being shunted off the ferry, the train was reformed (it had been split into 3 or 4 parts to fit), and then drawn forward about a kilometre before being propelled down into an underground station that felt like the start of an undersea crossing, but wasn't.
 

Mikey C

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Many years ago I did the now discontinued Sassnitz-Trellborg (Germany to Sweden) train ferry. An exciting experience, there is something really weird about being in a railway carriage being shunted onto a ferry!
It was a night service, not that I got much sleep, but there were clearly regulars on board, as they stayed in their couchettes throughout the experience!
 

Howardh

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The ferry you saw was probably the Nord Pas De Calais, which was a freight-only ferry capable of carrying rail freight vehicles and/or road trucks. She would never have carried passenger rail vehicles, the Night Ferry service between London and Paris have ceased a few years earlier, in about 1980.

She was introduced in the late 1980s prior to the opening of the Channel Tunnel but after the Tunnel's opening carried only road trucks, and the rail linkspans at Dover and Dunkirk were taken out of use. (Although I believe the parts of the Dover linkspan were retained in dismantled form until fairly recently.)

As a truck ferry, the Nord Pas De Calais remained in service into quite recently, latterly ending up in the fleet of the now defunct MyFerryLink, ironically owned by the Tunnel operator, Eurotunnel. Last I heard she was laid up somewhere looking for a possible buyer.

Just to clarify - the Twickenham Ferry I remember didn't have rail (but reading it up reminded me of those that did!) and was mainly freight - however it took car+caravan combo if booked in advance. Don't think it took foot passengers, or even single cars, as there weren't the facilities (eg bars/cafe's) to cope with more than a few lorry drivers.
 

sprinterguy

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A ScotRail class 156 made it across the channel on one years ago I'm sure.
Yes, Strathclyde PTE unit 156502 was sent to Utrecht via the Dover - Dunkerque train ferry when new in 1989 for an event celebrating 150 years of Netherlands' railways. There's lots of photos and information here:
http://www.traintesting.com/Utrecht.htm

The class 89, 90008, 91003 and a class 150 Sprinter (150263) as well as a couple of vehicles from the BREL International train had also made the same crossing a year earlier on the way to the IVA88 exhibition in Hamburg. More photos and information on the same site:
http://www.traintesting.com/IVA_88.htm
 

LowLevel

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When I did Messina we were shunted onto the ferry while still in the sleeper carriages but did have to go up on deck for the crossing.

A slightly more ramshackle train ferry I did a few years ago was from Baku in Azerbaijan to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan. Was only freight traffic using the rail element of the ferry at that point in time.

I've also done the Rome - Palermo daytime train and Palermo to Genoa overnight sleeper - well worth experiencing while it still runs, as I believe practically every year a new cancellation proposal comes up to avoid operating the train ferry.
 

cjmillsnun

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The last cross channel train ferry was operated by SNAT up until shortly after the Channel Tunnel was built. It was the Nord Pas de Calais, which co-incidentally is owned by Eurotunnel and has been retained by them after the closure of MyFerryLink for transporting dangerous cargo.
 

Shimbleshanks

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The last cross channel train ferry was operated by SNAT up until shortly after the Channel Tunnel was built. It was the Nord Pas de Calais, which co-incidentally is owned by Eurotunnel and has been retained by them after the closure of MyFerryLink for transporting dangerous cargo.

Not quite true. Eurotunnel did have hopes of being allowed to run a freight-only ferry service using the Nord Pas De Calais and a second ferry after it had been told by the competition authorities to sell off the MyFerryLink passenger and freight ferry service. But in the event, the competition authorities told them they couldn't operate even a freight only ferry so the NPDC vessel is now up for sale.
 

themiller

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the St Elois still exists, though the tramlines were plated over during her days based at Douglas as the King Orry - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Moby_Love
Wiki reckons the St Elois was in TOPS as a locomotive as it hauled trains......anyone know the number?

and last time I was at Barrow in Furness there was an old Nordic train ferry in use as a restaurant. Anyone know if it was the ship used in the Telemark film?

The Princess Selandia has left Barrow-in-Furness to return to Denmark. According to the forum in the hyperlink she's being broken up.
http://www.theqe2story.com/forum/index.php?topic=6842.0
 

ChiefPlanner

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The economics of the Dover train ferry were interesting - costs came down after pulling out of the very highly overmanned Harwich operation (trust me - I covered the port on a relief basis as a very junior manager) ..

Huge hope was based on the new NPD service - however - after taking off the whole costs and the UK rail haulage costs (and remember about 50% of the wagons came back empty from the UK to the Continent) - BR got about £5 PER WAGON -for all that work involved .....a very cynical (realistic ?) manager once said to me that the ferryboat traffic was "the fag end in the gutter of Railfreight" ..such are the dissapointments of railway life....
 

holts

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A few years ago I caught the Turin to Palermo sleeper (now sadly no more), a 19 hour epic involving the straits of Messina.

Another one is from Rodby - Puttgarden between Denmark and Germany. You need to get your skates on to visit here as a new fixed link is planned to open in 2021.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vogelfluglinie

Also used the train ferry from Helsingborg to Helsingor on a sleeper from Stockholm to Copenhagen. That route is now completely gone post Oresund.

pleased to report the Turin train to Sicily is still running and still being shunted on to ferry .

I have booked the one from Rome for July , you can even book compartment with loo and shower from Rome , which is good because the loos get really quite bad on the sleepers , would be helped by a simple clip for the lid when raised , you can imagine what happens as you rattle through some points and the lid comes down mid pee , however the cost was the most interesting , 79 euros a person , which I thought was a bargain , prices rise as train gets booked up though .
 
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