Wightlink

Ferries sailing across The Solent
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hhvferry
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Post by hhvferry »

I don't think his "research" reveals anything a lot of people here couldn't have told him. And it's a convenient time for him to suddenly become more voluble about this issue.

Nevertheless it's hard to disagree with the broad assessment of the situation. I do however (and this will be a less palatable view to Mr Seeley) think the IOW ferry services reflect a more widespread failure of British capitalism. Short-termism is totally dominant, companies pass between equity buyers at regular intervals at ever increasing values, being loaded up with debt at every move. Senior management are less interested in their day to day jobs and the long-term health of the business than in the next 'exit opportunity" when they can get a big completion bonus or a payout on the shares they've been granted.

Both Wightlink and Red Funnel are great companies which really should be almost impossible to mess up - they have a literally captive customer base, almost impossible barriers to new entrants in the market and a nice duopoly. You can see why they are so attractive to buyers. But they've probably been obliged to submit projections which support their last sales that showed ever-increasing profits and cash year after year. Putting up fares, reducing costs and not spending on maintenance and new ships is the inevitable result.

The shame is that it's almost impossible to get the sort of long-term perspective needed with any of the sorts of owners currently involved. You probably need either public or quasi-public ownership, or a form of licensing, or a local owner or cooperative or a genuine larger shipowner like Stena who are interested in owning ferry operations for the long run and will make appropriate decisions. How to get from here to there is anyone's guess.
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colinb
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Post by colinb »

Yes, agree with what you say. But Islanders won't be looking on here and Seely is making his pitch directly to them and others in terms that are readily understandable by the layman and which are hard to refute. OK, he is coming on the 'Knight in Shining Armour' bit but that's what politicians do. He has raised in in a an emotional (not my description) speech in the House of Commons which is all to the good.

The points made about reduced number of sailings with fewer (larger in the case of Wightlink) ships are very relevant. In this situation frequent crossings are a big customer plus and coming down to frequencies of under an hour and providing late night crossings would a big improvement. There was a much better service when all four Saints were available for the route with a flexible response to customer demand. There is no doubt whatsoever that sailing schedules are for the convenience and savings accruing to the companies rather than in providing good customer service and this imbalance certainly needs to be addressed. In the classic phrasing, the companies are 'conducting themselves entirely to their own satisfaction'.

I also agree that it is another example of the failure of British capitalism where the service being delivered is subject to the siphoning off of profits and funds needed for reinvestment to external financial monoliths with no vested interests. In this respect, the IoW ferry operators are minnows compared with the slow car crash which is developing in respect of the water companies, especially Thames Water which seems to have been literally sucked dry to swell foreign coffers. The company is also stupendously inefficient as I know from personal experience. TW have spent the best part of two years renewing the water supply mains to our estate, a job which was supposed to take twelve months. The roads have been dug up, resurfaced  and dug up again on numerous occasions because the job wasn't done properly the first time. Multiple contractors and sub contractors have been uncoordinated. The wrong valves on the mains have been fitted necessitating re excavation and many of the individual house connections have had to be dug up again as they are leaking. The leaks are being detected by a guy with a dowsing rod being paid the minimum wage and who hates the company.
 
A bit further up the road TW dug a hole breaking into a drainage culvert and  causing a surface water flood resulting in three inches of water in my garage workshop rotting the floorboards. No response whatsoever to my complaints so far and no repairs.

Sorry for the rant but it just brings home the practical  consequences of hhvferry's points in the post above.
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hermit
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Post by hermit »

This is one islander who is looking here! I think the overwhelming reaction here is cynicism that Seely is belatedly ramping up his activity on the ferry front at this particular point in time. To be fair to him, he has been making some of the right noises for some time, but the fundamental problem that he has (and which was demonstrated even more starkly by his dire predecessor Andrew Turner) is that the political philosophy of their party has been firmly set against any of the measures that are needed to tackle the problem, be they public subsidy or, more ambitiously, confronting the corporate models that the companies are following. So scepticism that anything much will come from his fine words, even if he hangs on after the election, is quite justified.

Thank you to hhvferry for your excellent analysis of the situation, which is spot-on. And I am entirely with colinb on the parallel with Thames Water, another outfit whose inefficiency and price-gouging I have also suffered from. One particular thing that Wightlink and Thames Water have in common is that their present state is in large part the result of their time under the ownership of Macquarie, the ‘vampire kangaroo’. In a more rational world we would be having public enquiries into the damage that they and they ilk have caused to the country. One can dream.
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BFMunchkin
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Post by BFMunchkin »

It's been announced that Wightlink CEO, Keith Greenfield, will be retiring after 9 years with the company.

From August 19th, Katy Taylor, formerly of Southern Water will take over as CEO.

Full Story (County Press)
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Seashore
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Post by Seashore »

Oh gosh, not someone from a water company! They’re be a plethora of leaks, they’ll run out of water to run the ships on, and they’ll be using sewage water for the coffee. Nevertheless the PE shareholders will be happy with their bumper returns.

Seriously though, as am armchair enthusiast, why can’t they find and promote people from inside the shipping industry with a passion for it? Certainly Red Funnel has its many operational problems, also sucked dry by PE leeches, but their CEO Captain Fran Collins does actually seem to be genuinely interested in ships.
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dogan
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Post by dogan »

Last year, while having a day trip in Portsmouth from Caen, I added a quick way and back to the Isle of Wight to try St Faith and Victoria Of Wight (report somewhere above).

This year, on 10th May, I once again enjoyed the BF day trip discount and made the same trip to Portsmouth, and then to Fishbourne. This time, I travelled on Victoria Of Wight and then St Clare (which I was eager to try).
So here are a few pictures of these ships (sorry in advance for another long post) :

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Entering the impressive Victoria Of Wight garage. I'm still a bit surprised there is no better facilities for foot passengers, but it's working !

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After a quick and smooth crossing Victoria Of Wight is leaving Fishbourne...

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...And St Clare is arriving.

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St Clare entering Fishbourne.



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Boarding St Clare through the garage in Fishbourne, while the mezzanine deck was lowered. The garage is much more lighted and clean than on VoW.

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Onboard St Clare : the lounges are a bit more brown, but seemed very clean and well taken care of.

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Outside deck of St Clare. I really enjoyed the space offered all around, not only in the back like VoW : as the weather was nice, I stayed outside the whole crossing and enjoyed the view.

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Loading in Fishbourne.

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St Faith waiting for us in Fishbourne to vacate the berth.

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St Faith waiting for us in Fishbourne to vacate the berth.

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St Faith seen later that day from Portsmouth Round Tower.

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Victoria Of Wight seen later that day from Portsmouth Round Tower.
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