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Fourth Freight-Ferry DFDS to Add to Direct Ireland-France Route Connecting Europe

4th March 2021
A fourth ferry DFDS is to introduce on Rosslare Europort-Dunkirk route, bringing to 36 in total direct freight services every week, (by all operators) on Wexford-continental Europe links. The Ark Dania is to enter service on 1 April. Note Afloat adds the DFDS name on the funnel while a fleetmate alongside retains the former 'Maltese' cross company symbol. A fourth ferry DFDS is to introduce on Rosslare Europort-Dunkirk route, bringing to 36 in total direct freight services every week, (by all operators) on Wexford-continental Europe links. The Ark Dania is to enter service on 1 April. Note Afloat adds the DFDS name on the funnel while a fleetmate alongside retains the former 'Maltese' cross company symbol. Credit: Rosslare Europort-twitter

A fourth freight-ferry DFDS is to be added to the Rosslare Europort-Dunkirk route on 1st April, the direct Ireland-mainland Europe service via France, that avoids the UK had only began just after Brexit, on 2nd January.

The Danish operator DFDS will introduce their freight-ferry Ark Dania (2014/33,333grt). Capacity is for 188 truck units (including 12 driver accompanied units and 176 unaccompanied units/trailers). Sailing time is approximately 23 hours 45 minutes.

Since the UK left the EU, the direct service has been favoured by haulage companies and industry alike, as it avoids the delays, border checks and complicated paperwork that come with using the UK as a land-bridge.

Upon arrival in Dunkirk or Rosslare, the drivers are fully rested and can continue driving immediately to reach many major destinations within the rules for driving limits.

Currently three ferries, (Afloat adds ropax Kerry and also chartered fast-ropax pair Drotten and Visby), offer a cost-efficient alternative for trade between Ireland and continental Europe. The additional capacity by Ark Dania, also gives customers an opportunity to grow their business post Brexit.

Aidan Coffey, Route Director, says: “Ark Dania is an important addition to the route. It’s a very versatile ferry capable of carrying diverse types of cargo. It will also free up capacity on our three other ferries for more driver accompanied freight units”.

“We have strong demand from all sectors of industry looking to use the direct route to North Central Europe, as more and more realise the benefits of using the direct route compared to the UK land-bridge”.

The inaugural sailing earlier this year, Afloat highlights involved another DFDS owned ship, ropax Optima Seaways. Deployment of Ark Dania, will see this much larger freight ferry which is scheduled to make it’s maiden call in Dunkirk on 1st April.

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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!