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Transmanche - the next phase


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Apparently Thursday (21 Dec) is the day when the Seine Maritime Council and its partners in the Transmanche ferry service will announce the name of the company selected to run the service, which operates between Dieppe and Newhaven, on its behalf.

Several experienced shipping companies, reportedly including Sea France, Brittany Ferries, Trasmediterranea and LD Lines, were invited to put in bids. Of those, it seems that two actually made proposals - LD Lines (which runs the ferry service between Portsmouth and Le Havre) and Veolia (which will be familiar to British rail commuters under its former name of Connex).

LD Lines seems to be the favoured bidder by most who have commented, having made a success of the Le Havre service where P&O had previously failed. However, it is thought that the proposal could involve running a reduced or re-timed service between Dieppe and Newhaven in order to put more tonnage on the Portsmouth-Le Havre route, something which is not likely to be regarded favourably by Transmanche's current owners. This is unconfirmed speculation, but makes sense because LD desperately needs another ship for Le Havre.

So what of Veolia? If that is the final choice, it will not be too popular with a lot of people in Britain. Under its former identity, it  actually had its franchise removed by the rail regulators for poor performance, and, ironically, it was the rail company that formerly served Newhaven. The company is mainly involved in water, waste management and utilities, though its transportation division runs buses in Wales and the East Midlands, and has other transport interests worldwide, including running the urban transport schemes in many French cities, including Le Havre and Rouen which means it will be familiar to Transmanche's owners.

The Newhaven-Dieppe ferry service does need a proper transport company behind it. It has enjoyed a poor punctuality, reliability and safety record under Transmanche, and the two new ships delivered in 2006 do not seem to have made a lot of difference. Its advantages, at least at present, are that it offers three crossings each way on most days (but could manage more) and the fares are low.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

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A more professional approach would certianly be welcome. It would be sad if they reduced the number of sailings . Their current timings seem designed to make them of no use to us requiring us to journey either very early in the morning or very late at night for the UK part of the journey.
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For anyone just south of Rouen this used to be an attractive route when there was the Seacat service in just 2 hours.  4 hours is far too long a crossing - better drive further and use the cheaper Speedferries service from Boulogne.  3 hrs makes it half attractive for some.  Any connection to Connex is anathema for us - one of the reasons I left the UK was to ditch the misery of the defunct, incompetently managed and badly funded Connex South East network.

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Great news - it will really suit us to go out overnight from Portsmouth and come back during the day via Dieppe.  The afternoon/evening crossing from Le Havre is a killer - we came back on it last Tuesday - 15 minutes late leaving Le Havre and over an hour late arriving at Portsmouth.  Because they kindly let us board the ferry at 3.15 (for a 5pm sailing), we were on it for over 8 hours [6].  There is only so many times one can look round the shop....
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I see that the proposal is that during the summer there will be a  daily sailing between Newhaven and Le Havre I suppose that will in partly plug the gap in the Le Havre- Portsmouth service.

If its overnight the extra distance wouldn't be so noticeable, and I assume that there are more cabins on Transmanche's new vessels than on the existing LD boat.

As Will says there is some spare capacity on Newhaven /Dieppe especially if they were to make us of their faster potential speeds, so perhaps they will have a better timteable on Newhaven Dieppe.

The new operation is due to start in March.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello Paris

We live just round the bend from Newhaven and have had a few trips on the good ole Transmanche ferries....I'll be hoping that the service improves, particularly Customer Services...we went over a few years ago in March. The weather was so poor the crossing was cancelled until the next day. Then half an hour out to sea with the (actual) Seven Sisters still in sight, the engines stopped for an hour in rather heavy seas....I was pleased we'd been allocated a cabin as lying on the bunk was the only position I could be in without feeling nauseous.We were five and half hours on the boat....The weather didn't improve for the return journey and it took us all day to get through to them in France to find out whether the crossing was going ahead. In the end we drove back to Calais and as those ships weren't sailing either, paid £160 to go through the Tunnel.

In June 06 we sailed on a calm sea both ways and it still took 4 hours. Bookings weren't available on the website and the phone lines seemed constantly engaged. I had to time a visit to the booking office in Newhaven with the arrival of a ship to ensure someone was there to make a booking - otherwise the office was closed. The computer system kept crashing and my details had to be entered three times before the booking was accepted. I worked in the local Tourist Info office in the summer and the website booking was still not working. A recent article in the local paper said that Transmanche bookings were down for last summer and I'm not surprised!  I realise they can't control the weather but the customer support is very poor.

We're pleased that Veolia haven't won the contract as they're the firm behind the proposed incinerator at Newhaven which is a rather hot potato at the moment - I'm sure you know all about that.......

Such is our experience of Transmanche that I drove to Folkestone and the Tunnel to Calais and down to Brittany in October rather than go on them again. Even though we only live 3 miles away from Newhaven. Let's hope LD Lines will improve matters. I'm thinking of going the Portsmouth/Caen or St Malo route in March. We'll be watching developments with interest.

Fortunately the lure of France outweighs the hassle of getting there!


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LD Lines has just given preliminary details of the service it hopes to run between Newhaven and Le Havre - looks like a daily service in summer months

Depart Newhaven 1700, Arrive Le Havre 2300;
Depart Le Havre 0030, Arrive Newhaven 0430.

So that should nicely complement the Portsmouth service - I see no reason why it should not be possible to book a return ticket going out one way and back the other.

LD says that it hopes to start taking bookings in about 10 days, and the service should begin end April/beginning May.

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I see that they have also announced the revised times for the Newhaven/Dieppe service.

Its looks like a slight improvement during the summer, but the winter service looks a bit odd. I guess they have some other plan for utilising the spare ferry capacity over and above the one Le Havre run mentioned above.

A compter du 3 Mars 2007, les horaires seront modifiés comme suit:

                                                         Basse saison  (du 01 octobre au 30 avril )  

             Dieppe / Newhaven                                                             Newhaven / Dieppe            

            Du lundi au vendredi  18h00                                               Du lundi au Vendredi   17h00

                                           23h59                                                                                 23h00

            Samedi et dimanche  08h00                                               Samedi et dimanche     07h00

                                            20h00                                                                                  22h00

                                                          Haute saison ( du 01 mai au 30 septembre)

                 Dieppe / Newhaven                                                          Newhaven / Dieppe

                                07h30                                                                                      06h00

                                12h30                                                                                      12h00

                                18h30                                                                                      23h00


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Slightly off subject but......

Need to take a Luton van over to France next month. Newhavwen would be more convenient so searched for a fare. The following came up when I tried to get the cost for the van:

"Currently only non-commercial, car based vans can be booked over the Internet. Due to customs regulations, transit-style vans are charged at a higher rate."

No problem getting a cost from SeaFrance or POSL for a Luton and very much cheaper than Transmarche and they do not seem to have problems with 'customs regulations'.

Do these regulations apply to Transmarche or is it just a way of getting more money.

The message also states that:

"Failure to do this (book via email or phone for these types of van) may result in an additional payment at the port."


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P - how vans are charged, and booked, is a matter of company policy rather than customs regulations.

It may just possibly be that the customs in Newhaven or Dieppe have asked Transmanche to treat all larger vans as commercial traffic, after all they are both small ports, but I think this highly unlikely. Customs officers have to do the same job regardless of the port.

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