P&O Ferries is launching a Calais-Tilbury ro-ro service for unaccompanied trailers
P&O Ferries will strengthen its position in the English Channel by launching a new daily ferry service linking Calais with the Port of Tilbury.
The new route launches this month and is designed to give freight not accompanied by a driver a direct route to a port located just 25 miles from Central London, further broadening its offer for importers to and exporters from the South East of England.
Janette Bell, Chief Executive of P&O Ferries, said: “We are delighted to be able to increase the choice we offer our customers by introducing a reliable, efficient and timely route for goods bound for markets in London and the South East.”
“The route saves up to 75 road miles each day compared with the traditional Calais-Dover crossing, meaning that our customers save on fuel and land on the doorstep of London. By prioritizing the fast discharge of the ship, the freight can be on the M25 from 5.30am, thereby enabling time-sensitive loads to continue their journey before the rush hour starts.”
Xavier Bertrand, Président du Conseil Régional des Hauts-de-France, said: "The opening of a regular shipping line between Tilbury and Calais is an event to celebrate for many reasons. On the one hand, it meets the expectations of the European market and will help developing trade with Greater London, the Midlands and Greater Manchester.”
“On the other hand, it will improve the fluidity on the Channel, especially in the event of a No Deal Brexit. The port of Calais and P&O Ferries show their willingness to invest in the future, to offer a wider range of services to their customers in the logistics sector and to enhance the attractiveness of the French coastline."
Charles Hammond, Chief Executive of Forth Ports Group, said: "This adds another string to Tilbury’s market offering at a crucial time for the UK economy. Our £250M investment in an expanded ferry terminal at Tilbury2 will add further scope to grow our P&O routes to-and-from northern Europe in 2020."
P&O Ferries has chartered CAROLINE RUSS to service the new route, with two sailings every weekday and one each on Saturday and Sunday. The eight-hour sailing will have capacity for 100 units of freight, with a total of 50,000 expected to be carried in the first 12 months.
It is expected that time-sensitive supermarket goods including fresh fruit and vegetables will be transported on the route.
The new river berth at the Port of Tilbury is scheduled to open in April next year, enabling P&O Ferries to treble volumes on its existing Zeebrugge-Tilbury services to 600,000 loads of freight a year. An onward rail connection to Daventry is also expected to be operational in 2020, mirroring the rail connections linking the Port of Calais with Le Boulou, Turin and Orbassano on the Continent.
While Xavier Bertrand has explicitly referred to the "Brexit bypass" aspect of the new service, P&O Ferries has referred to the fact that the Port of Calais hosts the VIIA Modalohr-type intermodal terminal that ships unaccompanied trailers origin/destination UK by rail to and from Le Boulou (Perpignan) for the Spanish market. Via the Bettembourg hub in Luxembourg, VIIA also rails trailers via the Vénissieux (Lyon) and Orbassano (Turin) Modalohr-style terminals, it also serves Northwest Italy.
Furthermore, in future, the rail service that currently terminates in Le Boulou will be able to continue to Barcelona.
And, once the CargoBeamer rail terminal is completed in La Turquerie, it will be interesting to see whether terminal tractors can be homologated for use on the road to link it up with P&O Ferries’ new ro-ro link. This would provide the Tilbury-Calais run with further access to Northwest Italy and to Germany as well.