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Peel Ports London Medway Welcomes DFDS New Unaccompanied UK-France Freight Service

4th August 2021
Peel Ports London Medway has welcomed DFDS new UK-France freight-only ferry route of Sheerness-Calais which is to begin this month operated by the ro-ro Maxine. DFDS has existing services also out of Kent, Dover-Calais and also linking Dunkerque, from where the mainland Europe port saw DFDS launch in January a new direct freight route to Rosslare following a post-Brexit UK. Peel Ports London Medway has welcomed DFDS new UK-France freight-only ferry route of Sheerness-Calais which is to begin this month operated by the ro-ro Maxine. DFDS has existing services also out of Kent, Dover-Calais and also linking Dunkerque, from where the mainland Europe port saw DFDS launch in January a new direct freight route to Rosslare following a post-Brexit UK. Credit: Peel Ports Group-twitter

In the UK, the Peel Ports Group through its London Medway area of operations has welcomed DFDS new England-France freight-only ferry route connecting Sheerness and Calais that is to begin service this month.

The new freight route offers one daily sailing in each direction between the two ports using the ro-ro Maxine, which can carry up to 165 unaccompanied freight units - which are trailers or containers without drivers.

This latest development expands DFDS’ existing network of services between the UK and Europe and comes in response to growing demand for unaccompanied freight services from cargo owners, hauliers and shipping lines alike.

Most of the unaccompanied freight carried today by DFDS on the two Dover Strait routes – Dover-Calais and Dover-Dunkirk – is expected to be transferred to the new route.

(Noting Afloat adds in January, DFDS launched a direct Ireland-France service connecting Rosslare Europort and Dunkirk, to provide freight hauliers an alternative to a post-Brexit UK landbridge to mainland Europe).

As for the Port of Sheerness located in north Kent, the port offers excellent into and around the UK. It operates 24 hours a day and is fully open and accessible seven days a week, offering congestion free access to drop and collect trailers.

Owner Peel Ports has invested heavily into enhancing its facilities and services, making it the perfect port to accommodate this new service.

The combination of challenges posed by Brexit and Covid-19, has exposed drivers and haulage companies to vulnerabilities in supply chains worldwide.

This has resulted in many cargo owners and carriers re-assessing their transport plans and choosing different ports, different shipping methods and switching transport modes to future proof supply chains.

The partnership between DFDS and Peel Ports will create up to 100 new jobs in the region, with recruitment already underway for many of these roles.

Maxine's sailing roster will involve a daily arrival into Sheerness at 05.00 and from where it will be unloaded and reloaded to make its return journey back to Calais at 11.00.

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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