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Freight Ferry Network on Stena North Sea UK-Rotterdam to Increase Capacity

29th September 2017
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Stena Line are to increase capacity on the UK North Sea route Killingholme-Rotterdam Europoort in January 2018. Above: freight ferry Stena Transporter at the neighbouring Dutch port of Hoek-van-Holland from where the ship operates to Harwich. Afloat which sourced this photo, shows the Nieuwe Waterweg (New Waterway) the canal linking the North Sea and Rotterdam from where the Irish flagged tug Ocean Bank is seen home-bound having towed the former Naval Service OPV LE Aisling. Prior to departing Cork the OPV had been renamed Avenhorn. Stena Line are to increase capacity on the UK North Sea route Killingholme-Rotterdam Europoort in January 2018. Above: freight ferry Stena Transporter at the neighbouring Dutch port of Hoek-van-Holland from where the ship operates to Harwich. Afloat which sourced this photo, shows the Nieuwe Waterweg (New Waterway) the canal linking the North Sea and Rotterdam from where the Irish flagged tug Ocean Bank is seen home-bound having towed the former Naval Service OPV LE Aisling. Prior to departing Cork the OPV had been renamed Avenhorn.

#ferry- Stena Line which also operates a UK landbridge route network on the North Sea to mainland Europe, announced earlier this year an increase in its freight capacity on the Harwich-Rotterdam-Europoort route by replacing the current two RoRo vessels with two larger ships.

The ferry company has now confirmed plans to also increase capacity on the Killingholme-Rotterdam route in January 2018. Consequently this will increase its total capacity through Europoort by approximately 20%.

A decision has been taken to introduce a larger RoRo vessel on the North Sea to replace the current chartered ship, Caroline Russ, when its contract expires in January 2018.

Next year Stena Line will also reposition the RoRo ships between the Europoort routes to further optimise the available capacity. On the Killingholme-Rotterdam route, which was started with one vessel in 2014 and which has daily departures since 2016, MV Misida and MV Misana will operate. The new ship will be introduced on the Harwich-Rotterdam route in January 2018 and join former Irish Sea freightferry, Stena Scotia. 

Annika Hult, Trade Director at Stena Line North Sea commented: “I am very pleased to announce that we will now take the next step in the strategic development of our Rotterdam (Europoort) Freight transport hub to the UK. We have seen a strong growth in the transport market to the UK over the past several years and we are currently trading at very high utilisation on both routes. We also see a good development in Freight volumes arriving to Europoort by train. We believe that the combination of rail and RoRo transportation will increase in the future and our vision is that Europoort will develop into a key rail freight connection point to and from the UK. These capacity increases clearly demonstrate our ambitions and we are confident our customers will react positively to our expansion plans.”

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. 

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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