Saturday, August 21, 2010

DFDS RoRo Ferry Service At Centre Of Controversy

Good News for Freight Traffic - Not So for Passengers
Shipping News Feature

SCOTLAND – BELGIUM – After Norfolkline took over the running of ferry services from Rosyth to Zeebrugge in May last year the Scots Government were generous in their praise of what they considered a forward thinking initiative. Now that DFDS have taken control of Norfolkline however it has not taken long to axe the unprofitable route as a passenger carrier. Fortunately the company sees more opportunity as a RoRo freight operation and has acted accordingly.

Whilst the disappearance of the route will disappoint the Scottish Tourist Authority who wanted to encourage more continental visitors to the area, DFDS have now allocated an extra vessel for freight carriage which will allow four sailings per week instead of the current three. Both vessels can carry self drive, unaccompanied vehicles, unaccompanied trailers, trade cars and light vans and are able to accept ISO tanks and containers utilising the DFDS fleet of dedicated ships trailers. The freight operation was reportedly subsidised to the tune of around £1.8 million by the Scottish Government when Norfolkline took on the contract.

Andreas Teschl, Vice President of the DFDS Group, said:

“We can guarantee that the service will continue to provide a passenger service up to and including December 15 at least.However, we do believe the route has a future as a freight-only service and we not only want to keep the route alive but we want to enhance the service we offer to the freight industry.

“The service has been popular with the Scottish transport industry, who have recognised the benefits of the route providing the only direct link between Scotland and the continent. As a result, we will now be improving the service by providing two ships on the route and four sailings from each port each week, all of which will dramatically improve capacity. This new freight-only service will start once the passenger services ends in mid December, accommodating additional trailers, containers and up to 12 truck drivers per departure.

“This will provide freight operators with enhanced scope to reduce their environmental impact and transports costs by avoiding the need to make long motorway journeys. We will of course continue our talks with the Scottish Government in order to find possible, economically viable solutions to introduce a passenger service in the future.”

The regret at the decision to axe passenger services has been met by equal delight that opportunities for shipping of freight will increase. Both the Road Haulage Association and the Freight Transport Association plus local Fife Council expressed relief and satisfaction at the decision for a vital service to an area which local authorities refer to as ‘Scotland’s Gateway to Europe’.