P&O Ferries will launch a new freight service next month between the ports of Hull and Zeebrugge. The ferry and logistics company has chartered the 118 metre Elisabeth, a 5,000 tonne LiLo container ship, which will make three round-trips per week between the Humberside location and P&O's main continental hub. Janette Bell, Managing Director of P&O Ferries, said:
"We have designed this new freight service and our timetable around the needs of our customers, who have told us that reliability and the lowest possible terminal waiting times are vital to their businesses. The new service will offer fast and efficient turnaround times in both ports, with our recently expanded Zeebrugge terminal having optimised handling at our freight gate to help customers' delivery commitments. We will carry all types of lift units on the new service including containers and swap bodies.
"We expect demand for sea transport to and from Britain to increase in the years ahead, driven by a rising population and the continuing strength of the British economy. Our expanded freight service between Zeebrugge and Hull will further increase our customers' options for the fast and reliable delivery of goods."
This latest move comes just a month after the ferry group completed an £8.5 million re-launch of the two RoRo vessels currently serving the tourist and freight route and the company is keen to stress the importance of the enhanced rail facilities at the Port of Zeebrugge which handle a growing proportion of its cargoes which originate in Central and Eastern Europe. The company says exporters from the UK also benefit from onward connectivity to northern Spain and Gothenburg via services operated by lines in partnership with P&O Ferries.
It is proving a very good year for P&O Ferries which reported earlier this month that it had carried more freight across the English Channel in the first three months of the year than in any Q1 in its modern history, with the company's six ships on the Dover-Calais route transporting 361,100 lorries, an 11%increase on the same period in 2016.