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Freight levels still down on key UK-EU routes

Freight levels have not yet returned to normal on two key routes between the UK and the EU since Brexit day.

Between Holyhead and Dublin, the key roll-on, roll-off ferry route between Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, freight levels are currently down 53% year on year.

Simon Palmer, spokesperson for Stena Line Ports, which operates Holyhead, attributed this to a combination of issues, including new Customs procedures, a result of stockpiling before Christmas and the depressed trade in non-essential goods owing to the closure of shops and hospitality businesses.

“What we are seeing is a distortion of freight flows, with the majority of freight either moving through Belfast, as it has unfettered access to Britain, or going direct to the Continent via Rosslare or Dublin,” he said.

Stena Line therefore decided to temporarily pause some services from Holyhead and Fishguard at weekends and off-peak times when freight is particularly low. From this weekend it will move one of its vessels off the Holyhead-Dublin route and put it on a return trip from Dublin to Cherbourg in France.

Should freight demand return to Holyhead-Dublin, then Stena Line plans to redeploy its vessels to cater for this.

“We believe demand will return on routes between Ireland and Wales,” Palmer said, “The UK land bridge remains the quickest and most cost-effective route to the Continent for companies in Ireland.”

The picture is more positive on the Dover-Calais run, the main UK-Continent ro-ro route, where freight volumes are beginning to increase. While the number of HGVs coming through Dover is not quite back to normal, freight levels are certainly on their way, according to Richard Christian, spokesperson for Port of Dover.

“We always anticipated January would be slower following the stockpiling we witnessed before Christmas,” he said. “Inbound volumes are very much in line with expectations. Outbound volumes are a bit further down, which may be compounded by the challenges with Irish trade via the UK land bridge and Scottish seafood frustrations. However, looking at how volumes have been steadily increasing, we anticipate being back towards normal average seasonal levels by around the end of January or early February.”


Published On: 21/01/2021 17:00:29


In brief


Logistics UK welcomed the announcement from Transport for London on Tuesday (19/1/21) about the start date for the Direct Vision Standard, and praised the flexibility and certainty that it provides. Natalie Chapman, Head of Policy – South, said: “The creation of an “allow list” by the Mayor’s office and Transport for London (TfL) is welcome news for businesses as they adopt new vehicles or change the specification of their fleets.”


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