Memorandum submitted by Stena Line
Stena Line is an International Transport and
Travel Service Company, who are one of the world's largest ferry
operators. Together with the wholly owned company Scandlines AB,
Stena Line has 16 strategically located ferry routes in Scandinavia
and around the UK.
Stena Line's organisation is strongly decentralised
so that business decisions can be made as close to the customer
as possible. Each route is responsible for its own result and
it's own business plans.
Operations are divided into four business areas
giving Stena Line the right conditions to focus on its business
activities. The four business areas are Scandinavia, the North
Sea, the Irish Sea and Freight.
With regard to the Irish Sea Business Unit,
Stena Line operates from Stranraer to Belfast, Holyhead to Dublin
and Dun Laoghaire and Fishguard to Rosslare.
Through its subsidiary Company Stena Line Ports
Limited, the Company owns the Ports of Stranraer, Fishguard and
Holyhead, and provides Port Services to ferry line customers in
the Ports principally Stena Line and Irish Ferries.
Through the Port of Holyhead and Fishguard,
if offers gateways to the Republic of Ireland.
Holyhead Port is strategically located and is
part of Euroroute 22 linking the Baltic Coast with Ireland. It
is a mere 56 sea miles from the Irish Capital City Dublin and
via its two ferry operators offers up to 12 ferry crossings a
day by conventional ferry and fast ferry.
Holyhead Port and it's two major customers have
since 1995 invested heavily in improved tonnage and facilities
for both the freight market and the tourist market and this reinforces
Stena Line Ports commitment to this important and strategic route.
It should be noted that since 1995 Stena investment
in Holyhead Port has totalled in excess of GBP110 million (GBP
+ 55 Million in Port infrastructure and GBP + 65 shipping).
The completion of the A55 duelling across Anglesey
has been welcomed by the Port Authority and has certainly improved
access to Holyhead Town from the North West. It is however of
great concern that access/egress from this new road to the Port
entrance is still unsuitable for the volumes of traffic handled
at certain peak times of the day, it is increasingly becoming
a potential growth constraint for the Port.
It is also a great concern to the Port Authority
that the community of Holy Island are also forced to suffer as
a result of the traffic congestion at the single carriageway Station
Bridge, the congestion effectively divides the Town in two during
certain periods of the day.
Stena Line Ports are in discussion with Anglesey
County Council for improvements to this access (The Holyhead Transport
& Environmental Package scheme) but improvements are not envisaged
for several years, this apart from being a frustration to the
travelling public may effectively constrain growth in the Port
and Town in the short term.
The other pinch point on the A55 is the Britannia
Bridge between Anglesey and the mainland, which is restricted
to one lane in each direction. This is the only single carriageway
section between Holyhead and the motorway network.
Other improvements to the A55 that need to be
considered which would improve the real and perceived journey
time to Holyhead include removing the roundabouts at Llanfairfechan
and Penmaenmawr, improving the junction between the A55 and A483
at Ewloe, and improvements to assist the flow of traffic between
Ewloe, Queensferry and the start of the M56.
The Holyhead Transport and Environmental Package
scheme is currently being progressed in partnerships with Anglesey
Council, Welsh Development Agency and Stena Line Ports. This scheme
will address social deprivation in the town of Holyhead, improve
modal interchange facilities at the Port, and provide a direct
cycle/walking link between the port and the town, and will result
in improvements to the link between the A55 and the port. The
scheme involves significant remodelling of the rail lines in and
around the port/station area. In order to progress this issue,
Railtrack resources would need to be deployed on signalling work.
This would appear to be a stumbling block for the next few years,
as Railtrack's resources are committed on Train Protection Warning
System (TPWS) and the West Coast Line Upgrade.
The signalling across Anglesey involves a long
block section between Valley and Gaerwen, which means that only
one train in each direction can be in this section at any time.
As the time taken within this section is approx 20 minutes, late
running trains will result in delays to other services, and gives
little flexibility for operating trains from to and from various
destinations at optimum times for ferry connections.
First North Western operate a fleet of trains
that are capable of speeds of 100 mph on the line to Holyhead,
and Virgin Trains will be operating 125 mph tilting trains to
Holyhead from May 2003. The line speed from Crewe to Bangor is
90 mph, but from Bangor to Holyhead the line speed is restricted
to 75 mph. If Holyhead is to benefit from the improvements to
rolling stock, it is imperative that the line from Crewe to Holyhead
is upgraded to allow trains to run at 100 mph.
Conditions and basic customer service functions
at Holyhead railway station are also of great concern to the Port
Authority and given the numbers of passengers using the link to
Ireland it should at least match the service offered by the Port
and it's two ferry operators. Despite many meetings with the train
operating companies it is becoming apparent that rail franchise
issues are getting in the way of customer service improvements
and investments. Investments by First North Western on station
improvements are now on hold until franchise has been awarded,
this is believed to be 2004.
As a visitors first impression of Wales it is
our view that the present "Dickensian" railway platform
at Holyhead should at the very least be brought up to the standards
of other main line stations in the North West with Customer Service,
cleanliness and communication being prioritised.
Although Holyhead Port does not have a rail
freight facility at present it is an ambition of the Port long
term to have in place such a facility. In its attempt to facilitate
rail freight terminal in the future the Holyhead Transport and
Environmental Package scheme includes a provision that ensures
that rail lines can be placed to the deep-water berths at Salt
Island. It is Stena Line understanding that to make best use of
any rail freight facility track changes along the North Wales
coast would be required.
Captain Wyn Parry
Ship Operations and Port Manager
2 May 2002