Feature, Freight News, Road, Sea

DFDS puts Sheerness back on the ferry map

[ April 7, 2021   //   ]

DFDS, is to launch a new freight-only service between Sheerness and Calais, the first regular ferry route to operate from the Peel Ports-owned location for many years.

The service will start on 1 June and will offer one daily sailing in each direction operated by the Gothia, which can carry up to 165 unaccompanied units.

Sheerness, part of Peel Ports’ London Medway cluster, is located in northern Kent and operates 24 hours a day, allowing operators to drop and collect trailers, with no standage charges applied for the first 48 hours. The port is close to the M25 and 40km closer to the M25 than Dover.

The new service will exploit capacity partly enabled by Department of Transport resilience funding in 2019.

The port was the UK terminal for the Olau Line passenger and freight service to Vlissingen, which ceased in 1994. Since then, Sheerness has handled mainly general cargo and trade cars.

DFDS, which already operates regular services aimed mainly at the accompanied market from Dover to Calais and Dunkerque, says there is growing demand for unaccompanied freight services. It is introducing the freight and passenger ship, Cote d’Opale to its Dover to Calais route in July.

The Dover-Calais route will also see the launch of a new Irish Ferries service in June.

Freight sales director Wayne Bullen, said: “Sheerness promises to be a superb ‘partner port’, with an ambitious plan to grow its services over the next decade. We also continue to cement our partnership with the port of Calais and are excited to be expanding our services to the port as it marks the fulfilment of its multi-million-pound expansion project.”

He added that launching a new route was a strong indication of DFDS’ commitment to its customers and would help to boost both the UK and French economies.

The new service will also be one of a handful of services from Calais to serve a port other than Dover, although P&O Ferries did operate a freight service to Tilbury before ceasing the operation at the height of the Covid crisis.

Calais chairman Jean-Marc Puissesseau, said it was: “A clear sign of confidence in the ability of the port to create value for our clients. This new service will perfectly fit with the rail motorways in operation in Calais coming from Italy, Spain and southern France.”

London Medway port director Richard Goffin, Port Director, added: “We’re delighted to welcome a new unaccompanied freight service from DFDS. This is the first ferry service since Olau Line ceased operating in 1994. Over the past year, we have Brexit-proofed a number of our ports, including London Medway, increasing resiliency to handle additional cargo to help reduce delays and maximise efficiencies for customers to provide a more attractive proposition and UK entry point over other southern ports.

“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 in order to preserve supply chains. Given current restrictions surrounding international travel, stricter border controls and COVID-19 threats, one of the most standout benefits is that by using driverless methods, the risk of delays associated to those particular challenges is reduced.”

DFDS will provide further information, including a detailed sailing schedule for the route, shortly before the service starts.