Freight News, Sea

Government secures queue-busting ferry capacity

[ October 14, 2020   //   ]

The government has signed agreements with four ferry operators to provide capacity equivalent to over 3,000 HGVs per week at the end of the Brexit transition period. They will provide space to keep essential food and medical supplies moving in the face of possible disruption after the UK leaves the EU.

The contracts, with Brittany Ferries, DFDS, P&O and Stena, are collectively worth £77.6 million, and will focus on routes and ports less likely to experience disruption including Felixstowe, Harwich, Hull, Newhaven, Poole, Portsmouth, Teesport and Tilbury.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “As the transition period comes to an end, we’re putting the necessary measures in place to safeguard the smooth and successful flow of freight. Securing these contracts ensures that irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations, lifesaving medical supplies and other critical goods can continue to enter the UK from the moment we leave the EU.”

The contracts will be in place for up to six months after the end of the transition period.

They were awarded through the government’s Freight Capacity Framework, under which a shortlist of experienced freight operators bid for contracts.

It says that they guarantee a much faster and more efficient procurement process over the four-year life of the contracts. Should they not be required, termination costs would reflect a fraction of the full contract amount.

Efforts by the Government to secure similar capacity in the run-up to Brexit by Shapps’ predecessor, Chris Grayling, were criticised as poor value for money and, in one case, included a company that was not actively involved in operating ferries.

The government acknowledges the Short Straits routes remain a vital corridor for trade between the UK and mainland Europe and have played a key role this year in maintaining the flow of critical goods into the country throughout the Covid crisis. It says it is working with key local stakeholders and industry to prepare for the end of the transition period.