Harwich: Record first half for Stena Line’s Hook of Holland ferry route

Lars Olsson of Stena Line at Harwich

Lars Olsson of Stena Line at Harwich - Credit: Andrew Partridge

Ferry operator Stena Line has reported record first-half volumes for its Harwich-Hook of Holland route.

The total of 246,000 passengers for January to June represents a 5.9% increase on the figure of 232,000 for the same period last year and the highest first-half total since the company’s current timetable was established six years ago.

Growth in car numbers was even stronger, with the total rising by 9.6% compared with last year’s first half, from 47,000 to 52,000, while coach traffic grew by 5.7% up, from 590 to 630.

May saw the strongest growth, with passenger numbers 21.3% up on May 2012, cars 20.5% ahead and coach numbers 22.8% higher.

Stena said the growth in passenger numbers across the first half also represented an increased market share for sea travel, citing Civil Aviation Authority figures showing a year-on-year increase in air passenger numbers between the UK and the Netherlands of just 2.2% for the same period.

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Lars Olsson, Stena Line’s general manager for travel on the North Sea, said: “The Harwich–Hook of Holland service remains of huge strategic importance for Stena Line and we will continue to explore ways to enhance services on the route, ensuring the best possible pricing to sustain our strong growth.

“The ferry link between Harwich and the Hook of Holland reaches its 120th anniversary this year and Stena Line is delighted to play an increasingly significant role in its history and in passenger and freight transportation between Britain and the Netherlands.

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“Although we are mindful of the regulatory issues facing ferry travel on the North Sea and the ongoing economic challenges affecting the UK and the eurozone, we remain confident that the hotel-like facilities on board our superferries, coupled with keen pricing and a convenient schedule, put us in an excellent position to achieve further growth.

“We will continue to work to drive awareness of our services and attract more new customers this year, where we aim to transport in excess of 550,000 passengers and 120,000 cars.”

Stena Line operates twice-daily six-hour return crossings between Harwich and the Hook of Holland, with fares currently starting from £59 one-way for an adult and car.

Despite the recession and the sluggish recovery since, first-half passengers numbers on the route have increased consistently since the launch of the current timetable, rising from 183,000 in 2007 to 209,000 in 2008, 218,000 in 2009, 225,000 in 2010, 228,000 in 2011 and 246,000 last year.

With the balance of volumes tilted towards the second half, passenger numbers for the full-year regularly top 500,000.

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