Harwich: Stena Line charters smaller vessels for Rotterdam freight service

FERRY operator Stene Line is to introduce smaller vessels on its Harwich-Rotterdam freight route – but insists that there will be no reduction in service to customers.

The replacement of the current vessels, the Stena Carrier and the Stena Freighter, follows a decision by rival CLdN, part of Cobelfret, to end its Ipswich-Rotterdam service due to low volumes amid the tough economic climate.

Stena has now chartered the two vessels used on the Ipswich route, the Capucine and the Severine, and will deploy them on its Harwich-Rotterdam route from the start of next month. It says that the new vessels, one built in 2011 and the other completed this year, will enable it to improve operational efficiency.

“The market conditions for the Rotterdam-Harwich route have been very tough during the past few years, mainly due to a very competitive environment on the North Sea and the financial instability and recession,” said Stena’s area director, Pim de Lange.

“This has led to a low capacity utilisation of our two current vessels and a consequential poor financial development for the route.”

“We need to improve efficiency and reduce our operational costs to be able to increase our competitiveness.

“With this solution we can accomplish that because we will have smaller and cheaper tonnage and, at the same time, we can carry the same volumes that we have today and deliver the same service to our customers,” he added.

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The closure of CLdN’s Ipswich-Rotterdam route is thought to involve around 20 job losses.

CLdN has declined to comment on the closure but in a letter to customers earlier this month it said: “CLdN ro-ro SA regret to announce that under the prevailing circumstances, the board have decided to stop the service between Rotterdam and Ipswich.

“The last sailing is planned for Friday, August 17, 2012 – schedule to be confirmed. We would like to thank you for your help and support over the past years.”

The loss of the route is a setback for hauliers as the location of Ipswich offered many operators a shorter road journey compared with Harwich.