Peel Ports London Medway has welcomed a new freight-only ferry service this month connecting Sheerness and Calais from award-winning operator, DFDS.
It offers one daily sailing in each direction between the two ports on ship Maxine, which can carry up to 165 unaccompanied freight units - which are trailers or containers without drivers.
The new route expands DFDS’ existing network of services between the UK and Europe and comes in response to growing demand for unaccompanied freight services from cargo owners, hauliers and shipping lines alike.
Most of the unaccompanied freight carried today by DFDS on the two Dover Strait routes – Dover-Calais and Dover-Dunkirk – is expected to be transferred to the new route.
The Port of Sheerness offers excellent into and around the UK. It operates 24 hours a day and is fully open and accessible seven days a week, offering congestion free access to drop and collect trailers.
Owner Peel Ports has invested heavily into enhancing its facilities and services, making it the perfect port to accommodate this new service.
Richard Goffin, Port Director, London Medway said: “We have been working with DFDS for several months now to enable this new route, which is meeting a growing demand for unaccompanied freight services.“It’s the first ferry service we’ve welcomed at Sheerness in more than two decades and its launch has helped create further opportunities for our customers as well as the creation of up to 100 direct and indirect local jobs.
Over the past year we have invested heavily into our port estate, increasing resiliency and cargo handling capacity, helping reduce delays and maximise efficiencies, providing a more attractive proposition and UK entry point over other southern ports.
The combination of challenges posed by Brexit and Covid-19, has exposed drivers and haulage companies to vulnerabilities in supply chains worldwide.
This has resulted in many cargo owners and carriers re-assessing their transport plans and choosing different ports, different shipping methods and switching transport modes to future proof supply chains.
Richard Goffin added:
Our dedicated RoRo facilities can accommodate unaccompanied freight, providing a huge opportunity for RoRo operators to gain uncongested access to London and the South East easily through London Medway, saving on steaming time.
The announcement of this new service is indicative of this shift and the growing demand for unaccompanied freight services.
The partnership between DFDS and Peel Ports will create up to 100 new jobs in the region, with recruitment already underway for many of these roles.
Wayne Bullen, DFDS Freight Sales Director, said:
We’re really pleased to be adding a new unaccompanied freight service to the extensive route network that DFDS already offers.
Sheerness benefits from excellent road links with a close proximity to the M25 orbital ring, which is ideal for goods heading to the London area and the Midlands. With the current shortage of freight drivers, across Europe, expanding unaccompanied freight transport will provide a logical solution.
Sheerness promises to be a superb ‘partner port’, with an ambitious plan to grow its services over the next decade. We also continue to cement our partnership with the port of Calais and are excited to be expanding our services to the port as it marks the fulfilment of its multi-million-pound expansion project.
Launching a new route at this time is a strong indication of our commitment to our customers, our confidence in the popularity of DFDS services and an investment that will help to boost both the UK and French economies.
The vessel will arrive daily into Sheerness at 05.00 where it will be unloaded and reloaded to make its return journey back to Calais at 11.00.