The agreement underlines the operators commitment to the port at a time of growing volumes on the Warrenpoint-Heysham route.
A twice daily roll on roll off ferry service connects the Co Down and Lancashire ports that began running in April 1996. Since then the service has gone from strength to strength with a €70m investment in a pair of purpose built ferries introduced in 2007. At the same time Warrenpoint Harbour Authority also provided a new loading ramp and upgraded terminal facilities.
Seatruck are the largest tonnage operator in Warrenpoint and in 2016 the service had a record year with well over 100,000 shipments for the first time in its history. The Seatruck Warrenpoint service saw the fastest percentage freight growth of any Northern Irish ferry service in 2016.
As part of the new agreement Warrenpoint harbour have committed to provide additional terminal space in the port as is required to cope with future growth predictions.
Seatruck specialise in the shipment of unaccompanied trailers on routes which reduce road mileage for operators compared with the more traditional transit through Scotland or Wales. Continued HGV driver shortages, particularly in the UK, are contributing to an increasing market switch to the Seatruck model.
CEO of Seatruck Ferries Alistair Eagles commented; Warrenpoint is where the Seatruck story began and we are absolutely delighted to extend our agreement with the Port and in turn our commitment to the local area. The wider financial benefits of having a successful Port in this area should not be underestimated. Warrenpoint Harbour is the economic heartbeat of Newry and Mourne and more widely on both sides of the border. We now need to ensure that we have the arteries clear to ensure that the blood can flow freely and we welcome the progress being made on the Newry Southern Relief Road.
Chief Executive of Warrenpoint Harbour Authority Peter Conway also commented; “Warrenpoint Port is delighted to continue its long standing business relationship with Seatruck Ferries with the signing of the ten year extension to the contract. Seatruck is a fast growing innovative Ferry operator with a long and successful history at Warrenpoint. Together both companies hope to continue to grow the business and to provide and develop this modern cross channel Roll on Roll off service. Seatruck is the port’s largest customer and this new deal demonstrated its commitment to the port and the region for the long term".
He added "As Northern Ireland’s second general cargo port Warrenpoint Harbour is a major economic driver for its local region and its position half way between Dublin and Belfast on the island of Ireland is a major benefit in attracting business. The port continues to lobby for the construction of the Newry Southern Relief Road to further improve access to the major road network.”