Feature, Freight News, Sea, Road

More truckers take the unaccompanied route, says Brittany

[ January 28, 2021   //   ]

A growing number of hauliers are shipping trailers unaccompanied, particularly on the western Channel routes, says Brittany Ferries.

Freight director Simon Wagstaff says that the requirement for Covid tests for drivers are helping drive the trend but there are other financial benefits in going driverless. He says: “We know of one large haulage operation in Ireland, for example, that has organised reciprocal arrangements with another in Spain, dropping off and picking up trailers for each other. That’s a cost-effective way of doing business.”

While all ferry companies have reported reduced freight volumes in January as a consequence of Brexit fears and stockpiling by companies, but Brittany Ferries says the proportion of unaccompanied units is already much higher than in previous years. Around 40% of freight on the Galicia, Brittany Ferries’ newest ro-pax vessel operating between Santander and Portsmouth has been unaccompanied since sailings began in early December.

The freight-only Pelican which has been operating between Bilbao and Poole since 2016 and has been designed primarily for unaccompanied trailers is now the best performing freight ship in the fleet.

Brittany Ferries began as a freight-only operation in 1973 but also started to carry passengers and cars when it became clear the biggest market was for British holiday makers visiting Brittany and then Normandy.

The company opened a sea route connecting Ireland with Spain for the first time in 2018, predominantly for freight traffic and more recently has brought forward opening of a Rosslare Cherbourg connection, as Irish, French and Spanish hauliers seek an alternative to the UK land-bridge.

Plans are in progress to open further freight routes, connecting Roscoff and St Malo in Brittany with Ireland. The aim is to start operations in early February using the ro-pax vessel Armorique.