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Call by Irish 'Europort' to Cut Welsh Ports in a Bid to Boost 'Brexit' Trade

8th February 2021
Irish hauliers have been bypassing ports in Wales because of Brexit, say industry leader. Above the Fishguard-Rosslare route serving Stena Europe, AFLOAT adds the ferry's name given post-Brexit is somewhat ironic. The ferry is seen arriving this morning to the 'Europort' in Co. Wexford from where a rapid rise in ro-ro direct routes/services to the continental mainland have arisen in recent months. Irish hauliers have been bypassing ports in Wales because of Brexit, say industry leader. Above the Fishguard-Rosslare route serving Stena Europe, AFLOAT adds the ferry's name given post-Brexit is somewhat ironic. The ferry is seen arriving this morning to the 'Europort' in Co. Wexford from where a rapid rise in ro-ro direct routes/services to the continental mainland have arisen in recent months. Credit: Rosslare Europort-twitter

The head of Rosslare Europort, said Wales should focus on having one ferry port in Pembrokeshire instead of two to run alongside the main Holyhead port, it has been claimed.

As BBC News reports, Glenn Carr, general manager at Rosslare Europort in Ireland, said the move would entice hauliers back to Welsh routes crossing the Irish Sea.

A month into new trading rules with the European Union, freight using Fishguard and Holyhead is "dramatically down".

Rosslare's January traffic to the UK was down 49% on January 2019.

However, its European freight was up 446% as that route allows them stay in the EU and avoid customs documentation.

Traditionally, lorries from Europe with goods for Irish customers have taken a short ferry route into the south east of England, driven across the UK and taken another short ferry to Ireland.

Holyhead, Fishguard and Pembroke Dock have all benefited from this traffic.

But since 1 January, lorry drivers taking that route have to go through two sets of border checks in and out of the UK.

For much more on this story click here. 

Afloat adds the Fishguard-Rosslare route is currently operated by Stena Line whereas Pembroke-Rosslare is served by Irish Ferries. 

Afloat adds the call echoes somewhat that to 1986 when given different circumstance, a short-lived joint service involving rival operators, Sealink British Ferries (successor Stena Line) and B&I Line (ICG acquired /Irish Ferries) together ran on a single route, Fishguard-Rosslare. 

This arose following the failure of SBF to obtain a 'jumbo' ferry on their route, however following the closure of B&I's Pembroke Dock route, an arrangement led for their Innisfallen to operate alongside SBF's St. Brendan on the 'southern' corridor's slightly shorter sea crossing.

This 'temporary' arrangement was to facilitate peak-season demand, however Innisfallen was unavailable due to requirements elsewhere on the Irish State owned company's ferry route network. This forced SBF to charter Prince Laurent from another state operator, RMT based in Belgium.

More on this historic development Afloat will report on as in the 1987 season, St.Brendan returned fresh from refit but notably sporting a joint SBF/B&I Line livery.  

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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