Denmark-based DFDS is setting up a new freight ferry route between Ireland and France. From January 2nd 2021 a new freight ferry route between Rosslare in Ireland and Dunkirk in Northern France will operate.
DFDS said that additional capacity has been chartered in order to deploy three combined freight and passenger ferries on the route to carry drivers along with their trucks and trailers. “The new route thus offers a cost-efficient alternative to driving through the UK,” DFDS said.
Each ferry will have a capacity of up to 125 trucks and their drivers in Covid-19 safe single cabins. The crossing time will be 24 hours.
Upon arrival in Dunkirk or Rosslare, truck drivers will be fully rested and immediately able to reach many major destinations within the legal driving limit, said DFDS.
The route will initially not target passengers, although a passenger offering may be marketed at a later stage.
DFDS said that it expected the route to generate revenues above DKK300m ($48.2m) in 2022. The route is jointly owned by DFDS and Irish interests. The managing director will be Aidan Coffey. The new route will be operated from offices in Rosslare, Cork, and Dunkirk.
Other companies are launching daily ferry sailings between Ireland and France, from January 2021. The Stena and Irish ferries, running from Dublin and Rosslare to Cherbourg in France.
Minister of State for International and Road Transport Hildegarde Naughton has urged traders and hauliers to explore alternative direct ferry routes, noting that border checks at EU-UK borders would cause congestion in the existing “landbridge” route.
Naughton said that “businesses need to act now and they need to start talking to their logistics companies, to hauliers, to the shipping industry and to start trialling those direct routes now”.
Naughton claimed that there would be delays at UK ports on the Irish Sea and English Channel whether the EU and UK agree a deal or not before the transition period ends on December 31st. She conceded that the direct route might not be practical for some companies delivering perishable food products and time-sensitive pharmaceuticals.
Irish Ferries and Stena plan to run alternate week schedules on their ferries to Cherbourg.
Irish Ferries will operate a Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday service one week from Dublin to the port, in addition to their usual Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday weekly departures. Stena will continue its service between Rosslare and Cherbourg on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and plans to add a Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday service on the week Irish Ferries does not sail on these days from Dublin.
Stena said that there was free capacity on its existing ferry service to France. The Cherbourg ferry out of Rosslare was two-thirds full during 2019.
In normal times about 150,000 heavy goods vehicles travel across the UK landbridge every year, because it is both the cheapest and fastest way to transport goods to mainland Europe.
A report from the Irish Maritime Development Office has said that importers and exporters of highly time-sensitive goods who relied on “speed to market” offered by the route through the UK would need to “evaluate all alternative options and where possible, re-engineer supply chains to make the alternative options workable”.