Stena Line, the largest ferry operator on routes connecting Great Britain and Ireland, is diverting its newest ship from a planned Liverpool-Belfast route to sail instead from Rosslare in the Irish Republic to Cherbourg in France.
The move is a temporary one to service growing demand for a freight route alternative to travelling via Great Britain to the Continent.
Stena described the switch as “another Brexit-busting move” on social media.
The Ireland-to-GB route is beset by delays after new customs procedures and checks on goods were introduced on 1 January, on GB’s exit from the EU’s customs union.
The GB land bridge was popular for being the fastest way – a journey of some 12 hours before Great Britain left the EU’s customs union on 31 December – to move freight from Ireland to mainland Europe.
The Stena Embla will make its maiden voyage on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route next Thursday. The ship can carry 190 accompanied loads – 50 more lorries than the Stena Horizon ship currently servicing this route.
Stena joins Danish shipping line DFDS in boosting freight shipping services direct from Ireland to France via Rosslare. DFDS, which launched a service from Rosslare to Dunkirk on 1 January, reports that sailings have been booked out.
Rosslare, once a largely passenger-focused port located on Ireland’s south east coast, has seen growth in freight traffic after GB left the EU customs union and single market on 31 December.
From this time, ENS declarations as well as health certificates for agri-food consignments, have been needed for Irish freight to enter Great Britain on its way to France.
In a statement, Stena Line Irish Sea trade director Paul Grant said: “Given the challenges presented by the current fast-changing freight market, we have decided to temporarily deploy our new Stena Embla vessel on the Rosslare-Cherbourg route.
"Clearly Brexit has created an increase in the demand for direct freight routes, and in particular driver accompanied freight, so the addition of Stena Embla, whilst temporary, plus the recently introduced Stena Foreteller to the route will provide a welcome addition for our customers at this time."