Irish freight figures show appetite for new routes that bypass the GB landbridge

Tue 2 Feb 2021
Posted by: Noelle McElhatton
Trade News

Freight flows between the Republic of Ireland (ROI) and Great Britain are at about half normal levels a month after the UK’s transition from the EU ended.

Irish broadcaster RTE reports that although the level of trade is gradually increasing, concerns over post-transition paperwork, as well as delays at ports and changes in supply chains have also led to a 100% year-on-year increase in the amount of freight trade moving directly between Ireland and continental Europe. 

The Irish government yesterday published data on ROI-GB freight movements since the end of the transition period. 

Gradual increase

Although trade volumes on ROI-GB routes were about 50% of those reported in January 2020, traffic is gradually increasing with an approximate 11% week-on-week rise in freight vehicle movements into Ireland from GB.

There were just 61 inbound movements on 1-2 January, but this built to a peak of 1,334 on 28-29 January.

The Department of the Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) report notes that approximately 80% of trucks coming through Irish ports are ‘green-routed’, meaning they can leave the port immediately after arriving.

Direct option v GB landbridge

Direct ROI-EU movements have nonetheless increased, with Rosslare seeing a 446% increase in freight moving directly to the Continent, RTE reports. 

This is despite the fact that routes via the GB landbridge are the fastest from ROI to the rest of the EU, going via mainland Britain’s road and ports network – often from Dublin to Holyhead in Wales.

Trucks from Ireland heading to the EU via GB take less than 20 hours compared with the 40-hour RoRo sea route, making it a popular choice for agri-foods and other perishable goods.

The Institute for Government quotes an Irish Marine Development Office estimate of some 150,000 truck crossings from ROI-EU going annually via the GB landbridge, carrying trade with an estimated value of €18.2 billion.

New ROI-to-EU crossings

Hauliers have been using services from Rosslare to French ports Dunkirk and Cherbourg to avoid the GB landbridge from 1 January, when customs and other checks for freight moving between GB and the EU were introduced.

There are now 15 direct sailings between Rosslare and continental Europe every week, up from five, with another 15 returning. Rosslare is currently preparing for a €35m redevelopment which will see access and other facilities improved.