Saturday, April 22, 2006

Channel Pirates

We'll be belting back to Munich tomorrow...down to Dover and across the Channel with SpeedFerries. This is a relatively new company set up largely in response to the extortionate prices of the other Channel ferry operators like P&O, SeaFrance and tunnel operator EuroTunnel - the most expensive of all. Not long ago they would charge fantasy prices - upwards from 150 pounds - for the 90 minute, 40 mile crossing making this stretch of water the most expensive in the world to cross pound per mile (on one journey I made in my bus some years ago Eurotunnel wanted to charge me 350 pounds for the 35 minute train trip - ten pounds per minute!).

A group of disgruntled travellers set up a protest website "Channel Pirates" with the aim of petitioning the European fair-trading courts about what was, in practice, a cartel - I joined them quite early on - and, lo and behold they got thousands of travellers signing up to their petition, went to Brussels to speak to someone like the European Minister for Companies-Who-Take-The-Piss-Out-Of-Their-Customers and actually managed to shake up the big companies who have now also reluctantly started reducing their prices.

The people behind what was to become SpeedFerries saw a gap in the market for a cut-price ferry from England to France, bought a ship and started a cheap route from Boulogne to Dover. Their slogan was something like "fight the pirates!" And they seem to be doing ok.

Proof that even in the European 'Union' where the individual becomes smaller and less powerful on a daily basis, it is still possible to change things for the common good.


Haddock said...

I have never heard of Speed Ferries before. I might give them a go next time I go back to UK

Neutron said...

Hiyup Haddock...
The only small problems with them is that there is sometimes/often (!) a delay for some reason or other (think Reginald Perrin)...and there's an extra little bit to drive to get to Boulogne...and you have to follow a labyrinthine path through Boulogne to get to th harbour but now they have built a new road from the motorway to the harbour so it's much easier..