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Unread 06-04-2012, 21:01   #81
Traincustomer
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Very interesting that this practice of staying onboard which was common decades ago on Irish Sea services could make a comeback.

While acknowledging such changes will benefit all market segments (not just rail passengers) a fairly long lead in to any significant change is desirable on both practical and revenue optimisation grounds so that train services can be adjusted to best match the new arrangements.

The first option for Rosslare to Fishguard seems the best i.e. ex Rosslare 8.30am / 7pm; ex Fishguard 1.45pm and midnight (with the option to stay in cabin for 6 hrs).

Arrive refreshed!

Even with a full six hours in a cabin the second option and its proposed 02.30 sailing ex Rosslare is not necessarily an appealing sailing time for even the seasoned trucker, let alone the motorist or foot passenger. Under this proposed timetable it would be impossible for embarkation to commence before 01.15 at very best.

What I like about Rosslare at present is that the overnight rail sea and rail journey works in that it is continuous with no significant hanging around but that only suits if heading for South Wales.

Regarding Dublin if a 7pm sailing to Holyhead wasn’t met the far side by a train it would probably totally displace the rail-based foot passengers to Bus Éireann/Eurolines. Incidentally the overnight route 871 (London) coach enjoys very strong patronage and is often full/near full. Its route 880 (Leeds) counterpart often is around half full give or take but this can fluctuate. From time to time when heading to visit people in NW England I Sailrail if I can go daytime but at night always take the coach. There is no contest – at 4.25am I can either be starting to grab a few hours rest after already arriving whereas by rail the train would just be pulling out of Holyhead. Admittedly Eurolines only serves certain key cities and towns so rail is the only mode for many locations.

Advancing the morning conventional sailings slightly would be ok – but please leave the Irish Ferries Jonathan Swift at 08.45 – not being based in Dublin it’s impossible to reach Dublin by public transport in time for either the Stena Line or Irish Ferries conventional sailings and anytime I take the Swift it’s always a ‘mad dash’ invariably involving a taxi from the city centre.

It will be sad to see the Stena Explorer cease – hard to believe this month marks sixteen years since her entry into service on the route. Hypothetically would an alternative like the Stena Nordica serving Dún Laoghaire on one of her daily round trips be possible? (using the berth on the south side of St. Michael’s Pier/Ferry Terminal which the Stena Express/Lynx III served).

Final items of interest are in the recently released station usage figures for 2010-2011.

Holyhead = 241, 210 (up from 185,506 in 2009-2010)

Fishguard Harbour = 30,832 (up from 23,746 in 2009-2010)

(Reason – extra foot passengers in wake of Icelandic volcano).

The figures for Fishguard Harbour are for the period before the additional local trains were introduced last September when the only trains were the boat trains which understandably saw residual local usage due to the times they ran so 90 – 95% if not virtually all of the Fishguard figure pertains to foot passengers to/from Rosslare.

In contrast Holyhead’s train service is used by the local population so while the bulk of the additional usage is likely foot passengers to/from ferries there may also have been an increase in usage of the rail service by local people.

Last edited by Traincustomer : 06-04-2012 at 21:11. Reason: minor point of grammar
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Unread 07-04-2012, 10:49   #82
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Stena Nordica is too small to carry foot passengers, only takes 405 barely enough for drivers and its too big to fit in Dun Laoghaire.

Nordica is likely to be replaced also
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Unread 07-04-2012, 13:26   #83
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I took Sail & Rail back from London during the week in an attempt to avoid some of the chaos involved in taking a flight these days. I'm unlikely to repeat the experiment in a hurry. Having the option of an extended cabin stay would help though.

The train journey was fine, direct with Virgin from Euston. However, there was a major Ryanair-like scrum in Euston which was a pity. There was a train to Liverpool and my train to Holyhead within 10 minutes of each other. Both were relatively late to board and both were packed. Despite having ~20 platforms to board, they managed to get both trains to board from adjacent platforms. The scrum was unbelievable. By way of contrast, other trains which had departed earlier just had a normal looking queue to board.

The trip itself was uneventful, although I was a little annoyed at going backwards all the way to Holyhead. I could have sworn I had booked a forward facing seat.

Once we got to Holyhead though, the experience went rapidly downhill. The walk from the train to the terminal was badly signposted, poorly lit, indirect, and generally not very friendly to someone who didn't know the route. Then when you get to the door at the end of the platform, looking in to the terminal it's locked and there's a sign saying something like "Please use the main door". Of course, there is no arrow indicating which way to go for the main door - is it back the way we came, is it to the left, is it to the right ? We just followed people and hoped we would get there. It really is pretty poor from a user experience point of view.

The boats were both late due to the storms on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, but despite Irish Ferries having 3 staff on who were doing nothing apparent, it was down to each passenger to keep walking up to them to ask "what's the story, how long will it be, has it even departed Dublin yet, etc . . ." It was very poor customer service. How hard is it to write up a summary on a flip chart with an update. The overhead displays just said "delayed".

The terminal was *freezing*. I know it was unusually cold on Tuesday night, but there was no heating on at all other than in the loos and I don't think too many people were going to hang out in the loos for a few hours. The only seating available was metal and as you can imagine (on a cold night) it was pretty uncomfortable.

Stena boarded without any sort of announcement. I wouldn't like to have been waiting for it and missed it.

Irish Ferries boarded a while later. Again, no announcement, nothing. I know people (those who were awake) would have noticed the rest of the people shuffling along into a queue, but an announcement wouldn't have gone amiss.

We went through into the waiting area for the bus and waited, and waited, and waited. Some genius at the top of the queue kept setting off the sliding doors to outside which resulted in major gales (no, I'm not exaggerating) blowing through the hall and freezing everyone. All this time, no communication from Irish Ferries or port staff. People had no idea if they were going to be here for 5 minutes, an hour, an indefinite period while the ferry tried to dock, etc . . .

Eventually someone arrived and we were let on to the bus. At last there was a friendly staff member (port staff I think) who explained what the story was, how long the delay was likely to be, etc . . . The bus ended up driving on to the ferry and we walked up the stairs as the pedestrian link was out of action due to the weather. I'm actually glad of that as that walk would have been huge.

On the ferry - generally fine, captain explained expected arrival time, food was available and hot and not surprisingly there was plenty of space for all the passengers.

Arrival in Dublin showed up poor service again. Foot passengers gathered around the reception area. There was no communication from staff, no marshalling, no information. It took forever for the link to be fitted and all this time a very cold breeze was blowing through the reception area, presumably because the car doors were open. I'm a fit, relatively healthy, relatively young male and I can take most conditions, but this was almost too much for me - being frozen inside the ship. I wouldn't like to think how the grannies and kids who were travelling managed - they must have been blue by the end. Again, all this time, no communication from the staff. There were reception staff nearby and all they did when asked by the various customers was say "yes, it will be here". After 10 minutes of waiting in the freezing cold people were getting pretty angry. Eventually the gates opened and we trundled off.

All in all, a very unimpressive experience. I didn't care about the delay - it meant I got home at a more reasonable time. What I objected to was the freezing cold station, the uninviting environment on arrival into Holyhead, the lack of active communication from the staff everywhere, and basically the feeling that the foot passengers were regarded as less than human - they just weren't regarded at all.

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Unread 07-04-2012, 20:32   #84
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Thanks for posting that interesting account.

I'm puzzled about the door being locked at Holyhead - it sounds very bad form - I assume it was the door at the top of Platform 2. Did it involve walking out of the station onto the approach road, over the bridge and back in again?

Plan of Holyhead station here which may be of help:
http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/statio...Overview.xhtml

Virgin Trains often use platform 1 away over the far side of the station beside the old ferry terminal (it's possible to walk through the old terminal - totally empty - to get from platform 1 to platform 2).

Last time I was through Holyhead at night there was a door in the waiting area constantly banging open and closed - with people going out to smoke. A right nuisance to say the least.

I can't recall ever hearing a public address announcement at Holyhead - seems to be all screens.

Adequate heating, occasional announcements (update when most train passengers have arrived/ notification of check-in commencing etc...), signage - very basic issues - I think these are exactly the kind of issues that management need to walk through themselves if they want to see the Sailrail product via Holyhead do well.

Arriva Trains Wales are in charge of the railway station; Stena Line in charge of the ferry terminal building.
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Unread 07-04-2012, 22:02   #85
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Facilities at Holyhead are basic unless you are on the HSS which has a nice lounge upstairs and direct walk on/off ship without need for buses and other hassle

If you arrive by Arriva Trains Wales its normally a quick 20m walk to check in. The direct Virgin service does dump you on the town side platform which requires a bit of a walk back to the link to the other platforms. But regardless of platform you never have to go outside to get to the terminal.

Only complaint is the lack of seating in the terminal area, plus the pinch point as you pass the ferry ticket desks on the right towards check in. The coffee shop/news agent is pretty decent and has departure information screens on the wall

Its a whole lot better than the barren and cold Fishguard.

Last edited by Mark Gleeson : 07-04-2012 at 22:07.
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Unread 07-04-2012, 23:16   #86
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Don't blame the staff for lack of info on the delayed sailing. From having worked for one of the above operators and current in aviation 99% of the time passengers know what staff know although most of the time people don't believe it. All the staff in Hollyhead would know is its being delayed due to weather and an ETA of next update as that is all that staff in Dublin would of put into the system. However the screens in Hollyhead should of said delayed - Next Update @ .....
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Unread 07-04-2012, 23:49   #87
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There's also a café in the terminal at Fishguard, albeit not open at night.
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Unread 08-04-2012, 11:28   #88
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Quote:
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Interestingly, I have recently completed a survey on behalf on Stena.
If anyone else gets this survey, you might want to be careful how you answer which ferry journeys you have undertaken in the last year. I said I'd done one return of each of the Rosslare to Fishguard and Dublin to Holyhead routes.

The survey engine then decided I should answer questions about the possible future timetabling of the Rosslare to Fishguard route, presumably because this route has a lower number of passengers to ask.

As a result, I ended up commenting on a route which I am less likely to use and I also now have a discount coupon only valid on the Rosslare to Fishguard route, which is going to be of no use to me whatsover within the timeframe of its validity, whereas a Dun Laoghaire / Dublin to Holyhead voucher might have been.

Last edited by Eddie : 08-04-2012 at 11:32.
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Unread 08-04-2012, 11:41   #89
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I presume the discount coupon is personalised and non-transferable?
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Unread 08-04-2012, 14:02   #90
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Looks that way to me.
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Unread 09-04-2012, 11:01   #91
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But regardless of platform you never have to go outside to get to the terminal.
You obviously weren't there on Tuesday night Mark. Perhaps you should lay off the absolute comments when talking about a journey you didn't take.

We had to go outside twice before getting in to the terminal. Using the map linked by Traincustomer, here's an outline of the route we had to take. We arrived in to Platform 1. The access concourse was closed (or else not visibly or obviously open). Given the wind situation, the fact that the other doors into the terminal were locked and none of the people who passed through the station seemed to use it, I can well believe that it was locked. This meant we had to go outside and across the Access Road. This was poorly lit. Then we had to walk down the length of Platform 2 to the ramp and the doors to the ferry terminal. These were definitely locked - I checked them both. These are the doors that had the note on them indicating we should use the main doors. At this stage there were three options for finding the 'main' doors - left over the bridge, back along platform 2, or right through a set of doors and out to the car park. The correct route was to the right and *outside*. As you can see, we did in fact have to go outside.

Traincustomer - yep, it was the sliding doors at the end of platform 2 that were locked.

Jamie2k9 - while it may have been the case that the staff knew nothing more than we did, it's all about perception in the end. The perception of the people waiting in the terminal was that the staff didn't give a damn about the customers, their comfort, or keeping them up to date. In the time we had to wait there I ended up talking to a good few of them and everyone was unhappy with the information flow. Remember the bit about the customer being the person who pays the wages, etc . . . Customers who don't come back don't pay wages.

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Unread 09-04-2012, 15:16   #92
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I had suspected it had been necessary to go outside from your previous account (i.e. approach road etc...).

Wonder is this a regular happening or just a once off for some reason. Have used Holyhead homebound at night twice in the last 6 months or so and the door was open (but the trains I used pulled into Platforms 2 and 3 respectively - so I couldn't comment on the egress from P1 arrangement).

Way down platform 1 (towards the road bridge) there was (maybe still is) an arch (under the approach road embankment) leading to Platform 2 (at ground level).

To illustrate - on a country bus route a bus broke down a few years ago and the driver kept us posted about the replacement bus coming. His announcements weren't in flowery language or formal (and didn't need to be in a bus context) and while nobody was over the moon about being delayed the best part of an hour everyone could relax now that they were "in the picture". Everyone appreciated his handling of a situation outside of his control. In contrast in the last year or two a bus on the same route stopped at one of the main stops for twenty minutes or so for no apparent reason (it wasn't early and everyone had got off/on) - in the end it was seen that a new driver was taking over the bus. But there was no communication of the fact and this uncertainty understandably annoyed passengers.

Last edited by Traincustomer : 09-04-2012 at 15:21. Reason: addition
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Unread 18-04-2012, 16:15   #93
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Default Hourly Dublin Bus service commencing to/from Dublin Ferryport

The Dublin Bus website mentions that route 53A is being discontinued as of its last journey this Saturday and that route 53 will have an amended routeing and timetable from this Sunday. Route 53 will no longer serve the Point (where most journeys currently start/terminate) but will serve Dublin Ferryport. All journeys will go via East Wall which in reasonable traffic conditions suggests a 20 to 25 minute journey from Talbot Street terminus to the Ferryport.

Cash fare €1.40 adult single or €1.25 with LEAP.

Timetable:http://www.dublinbus.ie/en/Your-Jour...metables/5321/

Route 53 also stops outside Busáras (the Dublin Bus stop with the shelter on the "main road") and at Gandon House on Amiens Street - diagonally opposite Connolly.

A welcome and progressive development for passengers, workers etc...There is no bus to get to the port for either the 08.05 Irish Ferries sailing to Holyhead (the only Irish Ferries morning sailing if the weather is inclement and the Jonathan Swift is cancelled) or to/from Isle of Man sailings.

There is, of course, also the complimentary bus run by Mortons available to/from certain Stena Line (Holyhead) sailings at the separate Stena Line Terminal.
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Unread 18-04-2012, 18:55   #94
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A welcome and progressive development for passengers, workers etc...There is no bus to get to the port for either the 08.05 Irish Ferries sailing to Holyhead (the only Irish Ferries morning sailing if the weather is inclement and the Jonathan Swift is cancelled) or to/from Isle of Man sailings.

There is, of course, also the complimentary bus run by Mortons available to/from certain Stena Line (Holyhead) sailings at the separate Stena Line Terminal.
There is also the Irish Ferries bus provided by Dublin Bus under the name "53b"

http://www.dublinbus.ie/en/Your-Jour...y-Connections/
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Unread 18-04-2012, 19:30   #95
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On the subject of this Irish Ferries private hire ("route 53B") service drivers will also accept payment in sterling but this fact isn't mentioned anywhere and no exchange rate is applied i.e. Stg. £2.50. (€ fare 2.50).
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Unread 19-04-2012, 05:48   #96
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Route 53 will no longer serve the Point (where most journeys currently start/terminate) but will serve Dublin Ferryport.

There is, of course, also the complimentary bus run by Mortons available to/from certain Stena Line (Holyhead) sailings at the separate Stena Line Terminal.
That sounds like a step in the right direction. However, from recollection, the terminal buildings of IF and Stena are quite separate. How close is the bus terminus to these buildings?

Note that the Stena line coach is no longer complimentary (since 1 April).
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Unread 19-04-2012, 10:06   #97
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Bus Stop No. 2270 is right outside the Irish ferries terminal. http://maps.google.ie/maps?q=Dublin+....0 8,,0,-7.73
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Unread 19-04-2012, 11:14   #98
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Interesting that the Morton's bus to/from Terminal 2 (Stena Line) is no longer free. The fare is €2.50 adult single from the terminal to Connolly and Westmoreland Street with an option of a €4 fare to be dropped off at Heuston. There is however no pick-up at Heuston (or Connolly for that matter).

Further details here: http://www.stenaline.ie/ferry/rail-and-sail/holyhead/

So, a passenger wishing to use the route 53 service bus to/from Stena Line (Terminal 2 - adjacent to the top of Terminal Road South) could either use the stop at Terminal 1 (Irish Ferries & Isle of Man Steam Packet terminal) or use the stop at Alexandra Road/Breakwater Road South (stop 2269). It's around an eight minute walk from either stop to the Stena Terminal and in terms of footpath continuity/the need to cross roads the walk between the stop at Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 is preferable.

Incidentally there is a Dublin Bus pole still there opposite the Stena Line terminal (stop 2254) which was where the 53/53A used to stop before the road layout was altered a few years ago but it would appear essentially impossible for the revised route 53 to serve it due to the road and traffic island layout.
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Unread 19-04-2012, 15:58   #99
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Interesting that the Morton's bus to/from Terminal 2 (Stena Line) is no longer free. The fare is €2.50 adult single from the terminal to Connolly and Westmoreland Street with an option of a €4 fare to be dropped off at Heuston. There is however no pick-up at Heuston (or Connolly for that matter).

Further details here: http://www.stenaline.ie/ferry/rail-and-sail/holyhead/
Thanks for that info, which I didn't know.
Cost of bus for me is offset by the direct service to Heuston, saves changing on to Luas at Connolly.

Last edited by Colm Moore : 19-04-2012 at 16:03. Reason: [/quote]
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Unread 02-05-2012, 15:49   #100
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Default Fare increase on Irish Ferries' special connecting bus service (53B):

Adult single Busáras - Ferryport (or vice versa) wil rise to €3 (currently €2.50)
Child single Busáras - Ferryport (or vice versa) wil rise to €1.50 (currently €1.25)
Adult single Heuston - Ferryport (or vice versa) wil rise to €4 (currently €2.50)
Child single Heuston - Ferryport (or vice versa) wil rise to €2 (currently €1.25)

Source: http://www.irishferries.com/images/p...times-2012.pdf

Irish Ferries confirmed that this increase will apply as of Monday 7th May next (inclusive).

LEAP card can also be used to pay the fares (this appears to have been the case for a while).

Last edited by Traincustomer : 02-05-2012 at 15:53. Reason: correction of typos
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