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Merseyside: Major Investment In Twelve Quays, Birkenhead Nears Completion

17th September 2019
Merseyside: Twelve Quays construction work in progress at the ferry terminal located in Birkenhead Merseyside: Twelve Quays construction work in progress at the ferry terminal located in Birkenhead

On the Irish Sea a major £17m port modernisation project on Merseyside will help grow the region’s import and export capabilities significantly.

Work is been carried out by Peel Ports and Stena Line at the Twelve Quays terminal in Birkenhead. The project will see the dock expand to service next-generation RoRo (Roll-on/Roll-off) ferry vessels by investing in best-in-class facilities to reduce turnaround times, increase route capacity and improve health and safety by implementing one way traffic.

The newly developed terminal is expected to be fully operational by January 2020, ready to welcome Stena Line’s new fleet of E-Flexer ships which will utilise the Belfast-Liverpool route from spring 2020 following a multimillion pound investment into the region as part of a 25 year commitment.

David Huck, Managing Director – Group Ports from Peel Ports said: “The past two years have seen heavy investment in the infrastructure at Twelve Quays to offer enhanced berthing facilities for larger, more modern vessels, helping reduce turnaround times and open up opportunities to grow the region’s import and export offering by expanding capacity by 20%.

“It’s also allowed us to extend our long-term partnership with Stena Line as it takes the next steps in its major fleet investment programme, with freight and travel customers able to take advantage of faster and easier loading and unloading.”

Stena’s new E-Flexer ships are larger than today’s standard RoPax vessels and will provide freight capacity of 3,100 lane meters and the space to carry 120 cars and 1,000 passengers and crew. They are also highly fuel efficient to help reduce emissions, feeding in to Peel Ports’ goal of providing sustainable ports for the future.

Work carried out by Peel Ports includes a new multi-level berth to accommodate double-deck, simultaneous vehicle access to and from vessels as well as bigger berthing facilities for importers and exporters to take advantage of the port’s connectivity.

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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