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Brittany Ferries New Four Freight Route Rotation Completes first Circuit in Rosslare Europort

11th February 2021
Armorique on a repositioning voyage when approaching Rosslare Europort with Wexford Bay, where the ferry this afternoon completed Brittany Ferries a new four freight route rotation on Ireland-France links. Armorique on a repositioning voyage when approaching Rosslare Europort with Wexford Bay, where the ferry this afternoon completed Brittany Ferries a new four freight route rotation on Ireland-France links. Credit: Rosslare Europort-twitter

Brittany Ferries this afternoon marked its first completion of operating the new four 'freight' route network of Ireland-France links that began running from Rosslare Europort on this day last week, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The Armorique which launched the 'Brexit-bypass' routes last Thursday, was to increase much needed freight vehicle space on direct ro-ro services to and from mainland Europe. This was also a first for the operator by linking Wexford and Brittany via St. Malo.

Last night the ferry had sailed from Roscoff overnight and arrived back to Rosslare this afternoon and on scheduled (1400) despite the weather.

Irish hauliers and other customers can avoid the UK landbridge and associated impact on EU/Brexit border trade with Brittany Ferries enhanced choice of four routes: they are Roscoff-St.Malo, Rosslare-Roscoff and Cork-St. Malo and Cork-Roscoff. For full rotation see earlier report. 

Armorique will load freight trucks and drivers before the whole operation begins again with the cruiseferry repeating the rotation of routes linking Wexford, Brittany and Munster (as also reported). The sailing starts at 20.00hrs tonight and arrives in St. Malo the next day at 17.10.

In addition the Breton operator has more freight routes as this month a Rosslare-Cherbourg service was introduced complimenting last year's opening of the Rosslare-Bilbao route in northern Spain.

DFDS, operator of the new route to Dunkirk, using a trio of ferries among them the chartered Drotten vacated the linkspan at Rosslare's outer pier to where Armorique arrived this afternoon.

Astern of the French flagged ferry was the inbound Stena Estrid which was pressed into service on the route from Cherbourg, having been redeployed in recent weeks from the Dublin-Holyhead route.

Taking over these Irish Sea sailings saw Stena Horizon step in, the ropax was the original ferry that inaugurated the Ireland-France service under the banner of Celtic Link Ferries. In 2014, the route along with the same ferry, then Celtic Horizon was acquired by the Swedish operator, which was a first for the company to have a direct Ireland-mainland Europe route.

While Brittany Ferries have considerably taken action with these new routes, they do not have any freight marketshare based out of Dublin Port from where Irish Ferries and most recently Stena Line added a service directly to Cherbourg.  

The port in Normandy is now the busiest in terms of direct ro-ro operations linking France-Ireland with two routes and operated by the three ferry firms providing a total of four services. 

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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