If you are trying to visit P&O Ferries website today in an attempt to sail to Europe instead of fly, then you will be greeted with this message:
“We apologise for the inconvenience but our website is currently experiencing heavy traffic, therefore we advise calling our contact centre with enquiries or to book a crossing on any route.”
The giant volcanic ash cloud that is spreading from the volcanic eruptions in Iceland has now grounded most of northern Europe’s flights. At first passengers felt stranded in the UK, but suddenly people started to remember what they did in the days before cheap air travel – they caught a ferry.
P&O used to be one of the major passenger carriers to Europe but since the rise of budget airlines business has fallen. This meant that it never needed to really worry about its website. However, there has been such a massive rise in demand in the last few days that the web server has crashed. P&O now have a temporary page up asking customers to telephone instead.
This could be good news for DP World who took over P&O in 2006. It is likely that ferry companies and the Channel Tunnel will do well as a result of the volcano in Iceland.
This volcano should be considered a wake-up call, a timely notice of our over reliance on air travel and neglect of land-based transport. Currently environmentally friendly forms of transport are far more expensive than flying and offer fewer services than planes. Most planes offer WiFi whereas trains rarely do. The business client is charged huge amounts to travel by train across Europe, whereas air travel is affordable for everyone.
Why are the governments not taking the environmentally positive step of working together and investing heavily in advanced rail technologies such as Maglev to connect all major European cities? What level of interruption to air travel would be needed before Governments wake up and realise that putting all their ones eggs in one cargo hold is just plane short-sighted?