FERRY company Stena Line is celebrating a record year on its North Sea routes between the UK and Holland.

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Stena, which operates out of Harwich, carried its highest ever volumes of cars and passengers on its North Sea routes in 2012, including 521,000 passengers and 110,000 cars on its Harwich-Hook of Holland service.

The numbers represented the highest annual volumes on the current timetable, which was implemented after the end of 2006.

During its golden anniversary year last year, the operator carried an additional 12,000 passengers and 5,000 cars to Holland compared to the previous year, increases of 2.4% and 5.2% respectively.

Annual numbers of passengers booked on its combined rail and ferry “dutchflyer” package grew even more significantly, with a 10% year-on-year increase.

By contrast, British outbound travel as a whole remained flat in 2012. Numbers of UK residents’ visits abroad remained static compared to the previous year, according to Office for National Statistics figures to November 2012.

The ferry company ended the year on top of a wave with a 13.4% lift in passengers during December, taking 5,000 more than over the same month in the previous year. It also saw a 16.3% rise in car numbers, transporting 1,000 more than in December 2011.

The entire three-month period ending December 31 was strong, said the company, with a 6.4% upsurge in passengers, or 7,000 more than in the same quarter of 2011 and a 9.5% rise in car numbers, with 2,000 more than in the same period of the previous year.

Lars Olsson, general manager for travel on the North Sea, said: “It has been particularly important for Stena Line to achieve ongoing growth in North Sea volumes following our 2010 investment in two Superferries, which are larger than their predecessors and the largest of their kind.

“This makes the past year’s record success all the more welcome,” he added.

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