Freight News, Sea

Harwich-Esbjerg route to shut

[ May 1, 2014   //   ]

DFDS is to shut its historic freight and passenger ferry route between Harwich and Esbjerg on 29 September, blaming new IMO sulphur emission rules. It says that the service has been struggling for a long time with high costs and loss of traffic to the all-road route, along with the loss of duty free sales, competition from low-cost airlines and a decline in transport of industrial cargo between the UK and Denmark.

DFDS CEO Niels Smedegaard said the operator had tried to cut costs on the route to make it more competitive, including making it into a combined freight and passenger service, reducing crew onumbers, slow steaming to save fuel and cutting the number of departures, combined with aggressive marketing. “But unfortunately we haven’t been able to reduce costs enough to enable the route to bear the very high additional costs of around £2m a year,” he said. “This is what the new environmental law and the requirement to use low-sulphur oil will cost based on current oil prices from 1 January 2015.”

Sirena Seaways, the vessel which has served the route since 2003, will be moved to other duties.

However, the freight route between Esbjerg and Immingham will continue, and DFDS would seek to ensure the future of this service, it said. DFDS would do everything to ensure freight customers still receive a good service on the route with two big and modern vessels offering a daily departure each way with a crossing time of 18 hours. But, Smedegaard warned: “This route will also be hit by the substantial extra costs as a result of the new sulphur rules. We therefore need to keep a tight focus on costs to prevent the transfer of freight to road transport that will otherwise become a consequence of the new sulphur rules. We will therefore step up negotiations with employees, partners and other stakeholders to find solutions to reduce costs and increase flexibility.”

DFDS Seaways also offers a daily Newcastle-Amsterdam service and frequent cross Channel services from Dover to Dunkirk and Calais in France, along with daily services from Newhaven to Dieppe and Portsmouth to Le Havre.

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