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Extra Freight Capacity Added On Belfast Route Prior to Christmas

21st October 2016
Busy scene at Belfast Harbour where ferry operator Stena from today ramp-up additional freight capacity for Christmas Busy scene at Belfast Harbour where ferry operator Stena from today ramp-up additional freight capacity for Christmas Photo: JEHAN ASHMORE

#ExtraCapacity - Additional freight capacity by Stena Line on the Belfast-Liverpool service began today, in support of the retail sector in preparation for the key pre-Christmas trading period.

Stena Line is adding an extra two sailings per week, from Friday, 21st October until 16th December. It will operate an additional Friday departure from Belfast (15.30hrs) and from Monday 24th October until 19th December it will operate an additional Monday departure (08.00hrs) from Birkenhead, Liverpool.

The extra sailings will provide increased freight capacity for up to 2 000 more freight units across the Irish Sea at a crucial time for businesses seeking to maximise their Christmas trade.

Richard Horswill, Stena Line’s Head of Freight (UK and Ireland) said: “The extra sailings we have announced today represent an additional 25% capacity on our Belfast-Liverpool freight only service with departures times designed to optimise customer delivery schedules. Since we acquired the route in 2011, this service has gone from strength to strength, especially with our freight customers, so we are confident the additional capacity will be welcome news for the freight industry at this busy time of the year.”

“Putting extra capacity on now comes at a critical time for many businesses who rely on pre-Christmas sales to make a success of their trading year. As the largest operator on the Irish Sea, we have the flexibility to respond to the needs of the market and deploy additional freight capacity where and when it’s most needed.”

 

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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