British troops left Dunkirk in wartime, but the French port is set to become a valuable entry point for Ireland to mainland Europe following Britain’s departure from the EU.
Danish shipping company DFDS announced on Friday that a new daily service between Rosslare Europort and Dunkirk will bypass Britain and serve as another transit route to Europe for Irish importers and exporters.
This will allow them to avoid the expected Brexit-related border delays on the British landbridge route and to reduce the journey times for trucks disembarking at Cherbourg to important export markets for Irish companies in the Benelux countries. , Germany and beyond.
The direct ferry, which takes between 22 and 24 hours, will not be faster than the land bridge, which can take 13 hours, but the certainty of the trip will help traders plan the transport of urgent goods and avoid unforeseeable delays in due to the need for EU-UK border controls from January 1st.
Arriving directly from Ireland to Dunkirk, which is approximately 15 km from the Belgian border, the service will provide Irish traders and transport companies with access to the main European motorway networks.
The Danish shipping company this morning announced the new roll-on, roll-off service for road freight and passengers in a statement to the Copenhagen Stock Exchange.
The company said the new ferry route, bypassing the UK after Brexit, would offer trucks and their drivers “direct, paperless transport between EU countries”.
The company said the port of Dunkirk “is a gateway to Ireland’s main export markets – France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands – and a host of secondary markets” .
Additional capacity has been chartered to deploy three freight and passenger ferries on the route which will be “a cost effective alternative to driving across the UK,” DFDS said.
“We are extremely happy to offer Irish and European companies a cost effective way to negotiate directly with each other,” said Torben Carlson, Managing Director of DFDS.
“There will be no customs formalities or possible waiting times that the transition to Brexit could entail for trucks passing through the UK. “
The three ferries will ensure that there will be six departures during the week in each direction. Each ferry can carry up to 125 trucks and drivers in single cabins to protect against Covid-19. The company estimates that the crossing time will be 24 hours.
“Upon arrival in Dunkirk or Rosslare, truck drivers will be fully rested and immediately able to reach many important destinations within the legal driving limit,” the company said.
The route is expected to generate € 40million in revenue in 2022 and will be joined by Irish interests with the company overseeing the route led by chief executive Aidan Coffey.
Responding to news of the route, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said: “We are working hard to minimize disruption and delays for carriers using the UK land bridge to reach the mainland next year. But alternatives like this new direct connection by sea will be useful. “
In addition, the European shipping company CLdN, which already operates services between Ireland and mainland Europe, is adding a second weekly service between Cork and Zeebrugge in Belgium, one of the busiest seaports in Europe, to in the light of Brexit which will come into force in January.
The company has increased its services and capacity on routes between Ireland and Europe in anticipation of potential traffic constraints on the ferries serving the Land Bridge route and increased demand from Irish companies looking to transport directly to the ‘Continental Europe.
CLdN will offer eight direct crossings per week in each direction between Ireland and the ports of Zeebrugge and Rotterdam in mainland Europe with a capacity to carry more than a quarter of a million units of freight per year, including on its MV ferry. Céline “Brexit buster”.
“As we have shown and will continue to deliver, we will either deploy larger vessels or add more frequency to meet demand from and to Ireland and will respond immediately when the market signals a requirement, as we consider the Irish market as a main route for our portfolio, ”said a spokesperson.
The company’s vessels are primarily intended for container traffic and unaccompanied truck trailers, with the ability to carry a small number of cargo trailers accompanied by a driver.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin urged companies this week to “test” direct routes to Europe for transporting goods in case there are delays on the land bridge after Brexit goes into effect next year. The UK government has warned of the risk of long delays and kilometer-long truck queues to Channel ports following post-Brexit checks.
Cherbourg, which will be served by daily ferries from Dublin and Rosslare from January, currently provides the closest direct sea route to those areas, but the port is five hours further west. This distance limits truck trips due to tightly regulated limits on driving hours.
The length of the journey means that the drivers, unlike the land bridge, will not have used up any of their daily driving hours when they arrive in France.
“Dunkirk will mean we can enter a much bigger market close to major cities,” said Eugene Drennan, president of the Irish Road Haulage Association, who said the route would provide a “guarantee” to the area.
The move allows DFDS, a major shipping company operating 55 ferries on 24 routes, to re-enter the market after selling its Irish Sea routes to Stena Line in 2010.