Menu

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

In association with ISA Logo Irish Sailing

Extra Freight Capacity As Stena Set to Introduce '4-Runner' Class to Belfast–Liverpool Service

7th August 2018
Stena Forerunner seen recently docked in Harwich, UK from where the 210 trailer unit ship is to depart the Essex ferryport on the North Sea coast and be deployed to Irish Sea service this month. The Chinese built ship is the third of the Stena 4 Runner MK II class and similar to half-sister Stena Carrier, which made a notable call to Dun Laoghaire Harbour earlier this summer but only for maintenance and survey related work. Stena Forerunner seen recently docked in Harwich, UK from where the 210 trailer unit ship is to depart the Essex ferryport on the North Sea coast and be deployed to Irish Sea service this month. The Chinese built ship is the third of the Stena 4 Runner MK II class and similar to half-sister Stena Carrier, which made a notable call to Dun Laoghaire Harbour earlier this summer but only for maintenance and survey related work. Photo: JEHAN ASHMORE

#FerryNews - Responding to growing market-led demand, Stena Line is planning to upweight its freight capacity on the busy Belfast – Liverpool (Birkenhead) route this month.

The operator will initially deploy the 3,000 lane metre Stena Forerunner, before replacing it with a similar ship early in 2019. At which point the Stena Forerunner will return to service in the North Sea, where Afloat adds a half sister Stena Carrier is currently operating, having called earlier this summer to Dun Laoghaire Harbour. 

The planned deployment Afloat adds follows another freightferry Stena Scotia that has already transferred to the Irish Sea but onto the Belfast-Heysham route.

Stena Line’s CEO Niclas Mårtensson said: “Demand for freight capacity from Belfast continues to increase and we believe it is vital that Stena Line provides the necessary capacity and frequency to enable that expansion to flourish. Stena Line will continue to operate seven vessels on its three routes to and from Belfast serving Cairnryan, Heysham and Liverpool and the introduction of the Stena Forerunner will provide us with greater capacity and flexibility to service market demand.

Paul Grant, Stena Line Trade Director commented: “This latest investment by Stena Line yet again highlights our commitment to the freight market. This year we’re experiencing strong growth of 6% on our Belfast – Liverpool route. Future plans for the introduction of two new build ferries on this service during spring 2020 and early 2021, combine to demonstrate a significant long-term commitment to the region by Stena Line. Belfast is now firmly established as the preferred hub for Northern Ireland freight. Stena Line’s unique ability to offer reliability, frequency and choice of routes for the accompanied and unaccompanied segments from a single location is a big advantage for the freight industry.”

When Stena Line initially deploys the 210-trailer unit Stena Forerunner on the Belfast-Liverpool route it will increase weekly freight capacity on the service by almost 10%. They will replace it with a similar ship early in 2019 at which point the Stena Forerunner will return to service in the North Sea (where Afloat adds this ship is at present serving the route to Rotterdam).

Björn Petrusson, Stena Line’s Chief Commercial Officer, North Sea and Irish Sea commented: “Stena Line is actively seeking relief tonnage for the North Sea during this period as we are fully aware that a reduction in the number of ships, though temporary, is not the optimal solution for our customers there.”

 

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

Email The Author

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. 

We've got a favour to ask

More people are reading Afloat.ie than ever thanks to the power of the internet but we're in stormy seas because advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. Unlike many news sites, we haven’t put up a paywall because we want to keep our marine journalism open.

Afloat.ie is Ireland's only full–time marine journalism team and it takes time, money and hard work to produce our content.

So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone chipped in, we can enhance our coverage and our future would be more secure. You can help us through a small donation. Thank you.

Direct Donation to Afloat button

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!

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

Featured Webcams

Featured Associations

ISA sidebutton
ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Events

tokyo sidebutton
sovscup sidebutton
vdlr sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
viking sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
sellingboat sidebutton

Please show your support for Afloat by donating