Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Extra RoRo Freight Ferry on Dover - Calais Route as Troubles Continue

P&O Ship Re-enters Service Early - in Time for Holiday Rush and an Uncertain Summer
Shipping News Feature

UK – FRANCE – P&O Ferries has announced that it now has a sixth ship carrying freight on the Dover – Calais route, with the European Seaway re-entering service on the English Channel, well ahead of schedule. This despite the ongoing chaos surrounding the French port with floods of migrants attempting to stowaway to Britain and ex RoRo ferry workers setting fire to tyres and generally misbehaving after the MyFerryLink debacle.

The latest addition to the cross channel fleet is a 23,000 tonne vessel capable of carrying up to 120 freight vehicles and making eight sailings per day, adding to the 50 or so crossings the P&O fleet currently undertakes. Janette Bell, Commercial Director at P&O Ferries, said:

"I am delighted to be able to inform all of our customers that the European Seaway has returned to service a full ten days ahead of its scheduled start at the beginning of August. This means that we now have a sixth ship in operation on the Dover to Calais route immediately and our freight capacity has increased by around 12% to 6,000 units a day.

"Demand for cross-Channel freight transport is increasing for both structural and temporary reasons and the return of the European Seaway can only help the market to function more effectively. I would urge anyone looking to transport freight to the continent to contact us to find out more about the availability of space on the European Seaway and our five other Dover to Calais ships."

Not only British drivers are being affected by the ongoing disturbances in Calais and surrounds of course, the Freight Transport Association of Ireland (FTAI) has written to Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Charles Flanagan urging him to ensure action is taken so that Irish citizens can use Calais and other French ports without delays or threats to their personal safety. Neil McDonnell, General Manager of FTA Ireland said whilst acknowledging workers had the right to strike, road haulage operators had a legitimate expectation that their drivers would have free movement through the EU without threat to life, limb or property.

Mr McDonnell added that Operation Stack on the UK side of the Channel exacerbated the problem for hauliers, creating more delays and additional expense. At its peak some drivers spent more than 24 hours queuing on the M20 to cross to France. He continued:

“I have written to Mr Flanagan because it seems there is a lack of political will and determination to resolve this issue. Dover - Calais is the shortest route to northern continental Europe for most of our members and it is unacceptable that they are having to use other options to avoid the delays and safety risks. This has huge financial and logistical implications for operators and it can’t be allowed to continue. Every year we are subject to disruptions of some kind at the French ports and the migrant issue this year has simply compounded an ongoing problem.”

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has thanked its members for their response to a request for information as to how the situation was affecting their businesses. RHA chief executive Richard Burnett gave evidence to the House of Commons Home Affairs committee related to the Calais migrant crisis, and an eleven page dossier of evidence (well worth a read to understand how this situation is affecting a vast number of hauliers) was submitted to the committee, containing examples of some of the problems faced by hauliers and their drivers.

Also submitted was a letter from James Brokenshire MP, Minister for Immigration, to the Committee Chair which detailed the numbers and nationalities of migrants present in Calais, costs of the new security infrastructure for the Channel Tunnel and how the government would put pressure on the French to ensure the proposed €650 million redevelopment of Calais would include appropriate border security measures.

Photo: The head of a migrant pops through the trailer tarpaulin at Midlands based Sitir (UK) after he successfully stowed away. The company’s submission to the RHA told a similar story to many others, knives found, goods stolen and urinated on etc.