Harwich celebrates new ro-ro link

A NEW roll-on roll-off freight service to Ostend is being launched at Harwich - just weeks after the Port of Ipswich suffered a bitter blow with the collapse of a ro-ro service with the Belgian town.

A NEW roll-on roll-off freight service to Ostend is being launched at Harwich - just weeks after the Port of Ipswich suffered a bitter blow with the collapse of a ro-ro service with the Belgian town.

Harwich International Port announced yesterday that it is set to welcome the first vessel on Cobelfret subsidiary RoRoCo NV's new Harwich to Ostend service on Tuesday with the arrival of Flanders Way. The port said new jobs would be created, but it was too early to say how many.

The company will initially operate one ferry on the route, offering a daily morning sailing, but an additional ferry is soon to be deployed which will eventually increase sailings to 11 a week in each direction.

The announcement comes just a few weeks after the shock collapse of the Ferryways roll-on roll-off service between the Port of Ipswich and Ostend.

The closure of the Ipswich route in June came as Ferryways was being acquired by new owner, Cobelfret, which like Ferryways is based in Belgium.

A Belgian court appointed administrators to investigate the finances of Ferryways and 21 Ferryways staff were made redundant following the appointment of administrators.

Most Read

Earlier this week, it emerged that jobs were to be axed at Associated British Ports, owners of the Port of Ipswich, following the collapse of the service. ABP said the job losses, which union officials said numbered 44, were “entirely the result of the recent collapse of the ferry operator Ferryways NV”.

The Flanders Way has a capacity of 1,045 freight lane metres and can accommodate up to 78 trailers. The ferry covers the crossing from Harwich to Ostend in seven hours.

David Gledhill, chief operating officer at Hutchison Ports (UK) Ltd, which owns Harwich International Port, welcomed the new service, which restores a scheduled port link with Belgium after a gap of seven years.

“Harwich International Port is pleased to welcome RoRoCo NV's new service to Ostend. Harwich is ideally located for short sea services to the north continent, and this new service represents an important addition to the range of services that the port is able to offer its customers,” he said.

“This is the first time since 2000 that Harwich International Port has been able to offer a direct, scheduled service to Belgium. We hope that hauliers will recognise the strategic advantages of using a port that is able to offer services to both Holland and Belgium in their day-to-day route planning.”

RoRoCo NV also operates services from Ostend to terminals in Killingholme and Dartford in the UK.

A spokesman for Cobelfret said the situation with Ferryways was still unsettled.

“We were looking for the most suitable operation for the service and at the moment it's Harwich,” he said.

“We see quite some potential for that region and therefore we looked at various scenarios.”

They were not ruling out the possibility of an Ipswich link in the future, he said.

“Time will tell. It's very difficult to say now if there is scope for Ipswich. Ipswich has got its own merits and potential,” he said.

“We are ruling no ports out.”