Stena Line signs major 77-year deal with Peel Ports to operate at Heysham Port

19 December 2023

Stena Line signs major deal with Peel Ports to operate at Heysham Port until the year 2100

Leading ferry and port operator, Stena Line has signed a significant deal with Peel Ports Group, to operate from Heysham Port for the next 77-years until 2100. The Swedish ferry company runs a twice daily freight service from Belfast-Heysham providing a vital trade corridor between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The collaborative agreement demonstrates the strong working partnership between the two organisations and seeks to further strengthen their long-term relationship. The news comes on the back of Stena Line’s announcement last week of a new freight service between Dublin and Peel Ports’ 12 Quays Terminal in Birkenhead. Earlier this year, Stena Line and Peel Ports signed a similar agreement for the 12 Quays Terminal to operate from the Port until the end of the century.

This year, Stena Line announced it is making a multi-million-pound investment in the Belfast-Heysham route with two new-build state-of-the-art ‘NewMax’ ferries, which will boost freight capacity by 80%. With the first vessel due to begin on the route in 2025, these hybrid ferries will be equipped to operate on methanol fuel marking a key milestone in Stena Line’s roadmap to sustainable shipping.

Peel Ports, working collaboratively with Stena Line, plans to invest in new terminal management and a ‘smart gate’ automatic check-in system to improve customer experience at the port, and will increase the parking for trailers to accommodate the additional capacity of the new vessels.

In addition, the parties will aim to secure the shore infrastructure to provide additional electrical capacity to facilitate the future goal of powering the new ships by green shore power. This will be a further step in a long-term ambition to establish a green shipping corridor.

Niclas Martensson, CEO of Stena Line says, “Our business on our Belfast-Heysham route has thrived in recent years and is a vital connection for freight transport across the Irish Sea. With the upcoming introduction of our NewMax hybrid ships, this route represents a unique opportunity for Stena Line to offer our freight customers more sustainable transport between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and will be a key milestone in our sustainability journey.”

Carl-Johan Hellner, Chief Operating Officer Ports & Terminals, Stena Line adds, “Following our signing of the Birkenhead 12 Quays deal earlier this year, this agreement reenforces our long-term commitment to Peel Ports Group and further strengthens our partnership. Heysham is an important hub for our Irish Sea business and we’ve been developing our operations here year on year. We’re excited for the future of the route and to building on its current success.”

 David Huck, Chief Operating Officer at Peel Ports Group says, “We have been collaborating successfully with Stena Line for many years and it’s fantastic to establish another long-term agreement with the business.”

“This deal reaffirms our promise to continue developing and maintaining services across the Irish sea, while also showcasing our ongoing investment into our Heysham operation. We’re confident the route will continue to prove hugely successful for many decades to come.”

Stena Line is the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea, with the biggest fleet providing up to 238 weekly sailings offering the widest choice of routes including: combined passenger and freight services from Belfast to Cairnryan and Liverpool, Dublin to Holyhead, Rosslare to Fishguard, Rosslare to Cherbourg, in addition to the dedicated freight only route from Belfast to Heysham and the new Dublin – Birkenhead which is due to start in February. 

Stena Line is one of Europe's leading ferry companies transporting 6.5 million passengers with 39 vessels across 17 routes in Northern Europe operating 27,000 sailings each year.

The value of the deal has not been disclosed.