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Stena Ferry Line Calls for Brexit 'Implementation Phase'

8th December 2020
The new Stena Embla during sea trials. Stena Line is one of Europe's leading ferry companies with 36 vessels and 18 routes in Northern Europe. Stena Line is an important part of the European logistics network and develops new intermodal freight solutions by combining transport by rail, road and sea. Stena Line also plays an important role for tourism in Europe with its extensive passenger operations The new Stena Embla during sea trials. Stena Line is one of Europe's leading ferry companies with 36 vessels and 18 routes in Northern Europe. Stena Line is an important part of the European logistics network and develops new intermodal freight solutions by combining transport by rail, road and sea. Stena Line also plays an important role for tourism in Europe with its extensive passenger operations

Stena Line says while today’s news on the Withdrawal Agreement is positive, the ferry company hopes it helps ease the way to agreeing on a Trade Deal. Clarity on Northern Ireland is only one part of Brexit and there remain many unanswered questions.

Ian Hampton, Executive Director and Stena's Brexit Spokesperson says the systems and infrastructure required for customs checks in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK will also not be finalised in time for 1st January 2021. With many companies in the supply chain still not ready we believe a further ‘implementation phase’ is required by both the UK and the EU.

Stena Line says it understands that the UK Government will undertake a flexible and pragmatic approach to customs requirements after the end of transition period. The Government has chosen to delay, by six months, the imposition of full controls on most imports to Great Britain. This is an approach that the company welcomes, as it will ensure there are no delays in UK ports.

Ian Hampton, Executive Director and Brexit Spokesperson, Stena LineIan Hampton, Executive Director and Brexit Spokesperson, Stena Line

Stena Line would like to encourage the EU to take the same approach as the UK. It is in the interests of the both the UK and EU to prioritise trade flows over customs and agri-food checks at the border. The goods being transported will change little in the short-term, and with the UK adopting all EU rules, there will be little risk after the 1st January, 2020. We would like to encourage both parties to continue to work together as they have done up until now, until systems are ready.

It is vital the UK’s role as a land bridge (the route that connects the Republic of Ireland to the rest of the EU via Great Britain and vice versa) continues. Freight logistics networks are geared around processing and distribution centres in the UK’s central corridor, that feed the supply of goods across Britain, Ireland and the Continent. These centres process goods for distribution for sectors such as retail and pharmaceuticals. They have been set up as part of the land bridge network and can’t simply be by-passed by a direct route, as you then miss out a key part of the network. The land bridge remains the shortest route for Irish goods to enter the EU market, and vice versa, so it is particularly vital for Ireland that the EU plays their part to keep freight moving through Britain and on to the Continent.

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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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