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The 2 Tops

Brittany Ferries Overcrowding On The Vehicle Decks

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We travelled back from St Malo to Portsmouth on the Bretagne on 02/07/2015. On entering the garage deck, a loading operator signalled me to pull in my mirrors, leaving me blind to what was happening with my caravan, and having to trust the operator to safely guide me by finger movements. Caravans were being parked up with spaces between them as little as 5cms to 10cms between them. Exiting the cars was tight, and I had to climb over my tow hitch, and both my wife and myself then had to climb over the next caravan tow hitch in order to get to the stairwell from the garage. One elderly woman told me that, on their outward journey, she had to climb over the car's centre console so as to exit from the driver's door.

No consideration of possible risk of injury/damage to either persons or vehicles. And one mishap due to loading operative's error on an outward journey could end someones' holiday right there.

Today I have sent a recorded delivery letter to Brittany Ferries, and informed my Club. Others on the ship said they were going to complain; and I hope they do.

From what I have since learned, this tight loading to get in an extra row of vehicles is not an uncommon practice.

When making a booking, we are asked for length and height of vehicle - never the width, so it must be presumed that this dimension is accommodated by the standard lane widths of the garage decks, and that the loading capacity of the ship is determined by the dimensions requested.

Except that Brittany Ferries have other ideas.

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I'm traveling on the same route in September, if they try that malarkey with me I'll block the lane and walk away.

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Well, if they don't make money they go out of business, and we all want the cheapest ferry deal :)

 

I would climb over a tow hitch to save a tenner off my ticket.

 

That said, I fully understand this is not to everybody's liking and the elderly and infirm may have issue. The operators should have the intelligence to work out this for themselves though.

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I wouldn`t class it as `overcrowding` as they have a finite amount of space and it makes commercial sense to maximise it.

 

I`m always amazed if I get off a ferry without some sort of damage, but that is invariably down to the other people using the ferry who don`t really give a stuff about other peoples property, rather than the ferry operators.

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I don't know the size of the OP's car.

The lane width's on the Bretagne have probably been the same since the ship was new in 1989.

I would guess that the average car width back in 1989 was a bit narrower than they are now. The more modern wider cars are taking up more space, the same with caravans hence why it all seems a bit tighter.

 

Then again I could be completely wrong!!!

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Caravans rock and pivot slightly on the axle even in a slight swell that is why I always apply the caravan handbrake before leaving the boat deck it lessens the pivoting a bit, 5 to 10 cms is not a lot of clearance, I seem to remember there was a problem on the Irish Sea crossings with awning rails being damaged a while ago when vans were positioned too close together.

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Well, if they don't make money they go out of business, and we all want the cheapest ferry deal :)

 

I would climb over a tow hitch to save a tenner off my ticket.

 

That said, I fully understand this is not to everybody's liking and the elderly and infirm may have issue. The operators should have the intelligence to work out this for themselves though.

A bit short-sighted, that. Think in terms of your caravan being only 5 to 10 cms away from the one in the next lane, and then think about the vans rocking on their suspensions - doesn't need much of a swell to cause that - and then think about the possible damage to your van. Saving a tenner on your ticket pales into insignificance - and the extra crowding to get more vehicles in is for maximum profit, not to save you a tenner!

 

CBBC - The garage lanes are set out to carry HGVs and coaches, which have not significantly changed in width over time. Caravan widths have increased a little, and perhaps motorhomes also, but the designed lane widths are still adequate.

 

The elderly woman I mentioned as having to climb over their car's centre console did say that, on the outward crossing, theirs and other caravans and cars were scratched due to the overcrowding of vehicles situation.

 

I am amazed that anyone would consider this situation as acceptable, or even be happy to accept risk of damage to their caravans/motorhomes in return for a paltry reduction in the ferry fare. Of course, there is no evidence to suggest that such overcrowding has any relation to reductions in fares.

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I'm traveling on the same route in September, if they try that malarkey with me I'll block the lane and walk away.

And then you may as well leave the ship because they set the rules and no doubt they will have ways of responding to such antics

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Hello,

I could not cope as i cannot climb over the hitch. Neither could my disabled mum who travels with me. Would rather pay a little more and get some space.

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The maximum width of a truck is 2. 55m most vans are under this, my car one of the widest with the mirrors extended is 2. 195m and most vans at 2. 25m, so mirrors extended would not exceed the van width, the van is 20cm or 8 inches less than a truck. Should the car and van be in the lane centre then the width between vans would not be less 20cm, Time to visit SpecSavers :D

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I don't do Brittany Ferries anymore. My experiences on the Portsmouth Santander/Bilbao crossing did it for me.

Had a similar experience to the OP where one of us had to climb over the centre console of the car to get in and out.

Had another great time when one of the 'operatives' closed in my wing mirror manually before I had a chance of doing it electronically, and ruined the mechanism.

Had another experience, solo this time, when I had to park the car out on the open deck for 24 hours in horrenduous weather - quarter inch of salt crystals all over the car which must have done the car a world of good. :angry: :angry: :angry: :angry: :angry:

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I think the overcrowding experienced lately may have been due to the disruption with the Ferries and Chunnel.

I travelled Cherbourg/Poole on thurs and it was packed solid on the way out on the 4th june it was about half full.

,My unit is 2. 85m high and they put me on the deck with 2. 9m height restriction,the M/home behind me was 3m high he was told to wait for instructions before leaving!

knarf

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I am sure I will stick to the Tunnel plenty of room we had a compartment to ourselves coming home in June but we are a large outfit.

 

snooks

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Hello,

I could not cope as i cannot climb over the hitch. Neither could my disabled mum who travels with me. Would rather pay a little more and get some space.

If you have a disabled badge and leave your hazard lights on from check-in, then you are automatically priority routed onto the ship to be next to the boarding doors. No climbing for you.

 

They have ways to deal with this you see.

 

If any ferry operator damages your vehicle then you report it immediately to the ships information office and you will be re-reimbursed.

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And then you may as well leave the ship because they set the rules and no doubt they will have ways of responding to such antics

The ferry is designed for a certain amount of cars, if the ferry company ignor that and try and squeeze more cars on than what it was designed for that's not my problem . If I go onto a lane that the ferry was designed for lock up the car and walk away what are they going to do ? Frog March me back to the car that and force me off . . Newspapers will have a field day about an unsafe operator, remember the herald of free enterprise, it was the norm to set sail with the doors open to safe 10 mins . Just because this ferry company squeezes more cars on than it should, doesn't make it right.

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Have experienced similar situation on Plymouth/Roscoff in which I was unable to get my girth out of car in any direction,so they moved me forward. ..however, my wife who could not properly walk after an accident had to climb over an adjacent tow bar, not funny. ..

 

On another trip they singled me out and said. ..'you look like an experienced caravanner', I said yes. ....." will you reverse your 'van between these uprights then"........

 

geoff

 

ps at that time they issued their own disabled badge which was green but ignored it in our case.

Edited by shipbroker

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We used Brittany Ferries a few years ago on the Plymouth to Roscoff route and it was exactly the same then, having to climb over A frames to exit the car deck and almost impossible to open the car door to get out. The outfit in front of us had his awning rail ripped off because he had been placed right up against the side of the deck. I vowed i'd never go on B. F again. The following year we went P&O Dover to Boulogne and did so until the Tunnel opened. With all the strikes this past week, I was tempted to try B. F. Portsmouth to Caen and give up my Tunnel booking. After reading this post, i won't be bothering. I think too much of my outfit to be re-visiting these antics again. I just pray the French don't strike again before thursday.

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The maximum width of a truck is 2. 55m most vans are under this, my car one of the widest with the mirrors extended is 2. 195m and most vans at 2. 25m, so mirrors extended would not exceed the van width, the van is 20cm or 8 inches less than a truck. Should the car and van be in the lane centre then the width between vans would not be less 20cm, Time to visit SpecSavers :D

It doesn't work like that. When they decide to use this bunching-up operation, there are no trucks in the same lane as caravans/motorhomes. And the loaders make you pull in your mirrors so that you can only rely on their signals as you pull your caravan forwards alongside the caravan on your right, with only 5 to 10 cms clearance. And it is scary when you cannot see where your van is heading in relation to the stationary van so closely to the side of you. On our deck I did not see trucks in any of the lanes. After closing up the caravans and motorhomes, lane by lane, the "extra" lane was filled with transit-sized vehicles. On fellow with a campervan told me he was subjected to an 8-point forward-and-reversing manoeuvre before the loader was satisfied with his position. Visit Specsavers - what, in a pitch black room?

 

Another point. The bunching up would mean rows of vehicles being progressively further away from the normal lane positions. What would happen if the sea conditions made lashing necessary? The deck lashing eyes would be in the wrong position for most of the vehicles, and in any case the crew responsible for the lashing would not be able to access most of the vehicles to do this. We, fortunately, had a calm crossing, but sea conditions can change during an eight hour journey.

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In the case of a ferry operator creating an extra lane outwith the loading design and without recourse to suitable restraints, the ferry operator is responsible for damage irrespective of the sea state.

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The ferry is designed for a certain amount of cars, if the ferry company ignor that and try and squeeze more cars on than what it was designed for that's not my problem . If I go onto a lane that the ferry was designed for lock up the car and walk away what are they going to do ? Frog March me back to the car that and force me off . . Newspapers will have a field day about an unsafe operator, remember the herald of free enterprise, it was the norm to set sail with the doors open to safe 10 mins . Just because this ferry company squeezes more cars on than it should, doesn't make it right.

purplemadboy, as mw3230 says, they may well have "ways of dealing with your antics", but I cannot fault your reasoning. As happened with the Herald Of Free Enterprise, nothing will ever change until (heaven forbid) something catastrophic occurs. Then there would be the usual wringing of hands and the old saying 'that lessons have been learned'.

I did look on line at some of the legal requirements for RoRo ferries. The only safety regulations seemed to be for the safety of the loading operators - nowhere could I find any reference to passenger safety when leaving/entering the garage decks, other than the gangways to the stairwells being clear. But, when you are trapped among vehicles more into the centre of a deck, then a real obstacle course faces you to reach these gangways,

Once you are parked, these loaders do not wait to ensure you are OK - they simply vanish to commence loading the next vehicle.

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In the case of a ferry operator creating an extra lane outwith the loading design and without recourse to suitable restraints, the ferry operator is responsible for damage irrespective of the sea state.

I wouldn't disagree, but being responsible and actually putting that responsibility into practice could be two entirely different matters. I can imagine the burden of proof being firmly landed in the lap of the owner of the damaged vehicle. If a scrape between two caravans occurred whilst being guided by the load operator, it is doubtful whether the contact would be heard by the driver. By the time that a visual check could be made, the outfit would be well clear of the ship, and denial of it being a result of ship-borne activity would be firmly implemented.

 

One thing I failed to mention is that during loading, and because we were not in true lane position, my front wheel came to rest against one of the raised floor clamps. The operator indicated to come nearer to the caravan in front, which caused my wheel to ride over the clamp and this was too near so I had to back off. My car's front tyre rode ON the clamp for the journey.

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Having had them knocked off before I suggest remove my your mirrors before pulling onto the deck.

 

I can still see the van behind me and how much clearance I have driving forwards.

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After using the ferries for several years without meeting any potential problems, I feel a little naïve in thinking that this episode was a rare occurrence, and possibly a "one off" for the average traveller. Comments from other posters have rudely awakened me to the fact that this can happen at any time and that we have been extremely lucky.

It does beg the question of why Brittany Ferries (but what about the other carriers?) have got away with the practice for so long, and why have there not been complaints that have reached the media from aggrieved passengers?

Caravans and motorhomes are expensive, easily damaged vehicles. If a ferry company advertises travel facilities for these outfits, and thus plying for business by those advertisements, surely there is a legal requirement that the operating policies must provide for a reasonable level of practice which ensures that the risk of accidental damage is unlikely, rather than likely.

No guarantee can be given that damage will never occur, but keeping vehicles spaced within the design parameters of the ship is the first step in prevention of that risk.

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I am sure I will stick to the Tunnel plenty of room we had a compartment to ourselves coming home in June but we are a large outfit.

 

snooks

Likewise, plus no seasickness either, Tunnel everytime!!

 

 

Phil.

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The loading regulations will be of weight not numbers, each deck will have a known weight maximum and minimum, the loading officer ( not the one directing you) will have a load computer and an estimate of each vehicle and where to put it. That's why you enter the car passengers and caravan size. That's why some trucks go lower than others and cars on the higher decks.

Edited by Dartman 1
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