The end of an era. The DFDS Service leaves Harwich for the last time.

The last passenger ferry service between the UK and Scandinavia is coming to an end.

The Harwich to Esbjerg route is due to reach Denmark for the final time in the afternoon of 29th September.

It’s the end of an era for the Essex port which saw the first DFDS Service arrive in 1880.

The DFDS ferry leaves Harwich Credit: ITV Anglia

The company says passenger numbers have fallen from 300,000 to 80,000 over the years with cargo levels also dropping. On top of that new EU sulphur rules being introduced in January would have meant additional costs of around £2m a year.

This is a very sad day . It hasn’t been an easy decision. We’ve been seeing lots of changes to this route in the past. We’ve seen the abolition of duty free traffic. We’ve been trying to adapt to the challenges of dwindling passenger traffic and freight traffic by changing our tonnage, our ships. We’ve put in a different schedule. We’ve worked on our own costs, we’ve centralised our marketing and sales organisations but with the challenges ahead, with 2015 looming we just feel this route won’t be commercially viable anymore.

Max Foster, DFDS Seaways

Dovercourt and Harwich traders say passengers did not tend to visit the immediate area but any job losses at the port affect the town. It is believed that up to 50 jobs may have been lost in Harwich as a result of the service ending.

The DFDS ferry leaves Harwich Credit: ITV Anglia

It will affect I’m sure our cruise vessels that come into the town or into the port and other ferries as well, Stena Line, they’ve all got to comply, even fishing vessels. You can go to the mediterranean and the sulphur emissions don’t come in until 2020 so it’s very unfair that the East coast in particular is being singled out. I think it will have a tremendous impact at the end of the day.

Councillor Alan Todd, Mayor of Harwich

Stena Line offers twice daily crossings between Harwich and the Hook of Holland and a twice daily freight service from Harwich to Rotterdam. The company estimates that the more expensive low sulphur fuel will cost them an extra £41 million a year. As a result freight customers are expected to see prices go up by around 15%. The company says it will continue to monitor the impact on the business very closely.