New Kent-Europe ferry route hailed as sign of prosperous times ahead

  • Watch: report by ITV News Meridian's John Ryall

A new ferry route between Kent and Europe is being hailed as a sign of prosperous times to come.

The link between Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey and Calais, is the first new route between the south east and the continent, for almost 20 years.

DFDS, who already run ferries from Dover, says such is the demand for the service, they have been heavily booked from June when the freight crossings start.

The link will run between Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey and Calais Credit: ITV Meridian

For decades Sheerness has imported cars from Europe, currently at the rate of nearly 1000 a day.

But now, the port's owners have announced the launch of a new Sheerness-Calais freight route, to be operated by DFDS.

The new DFDS freight service, which starts in June, will be the first new crossing at Sheerness since the Olau Line service to Vlissengen closed in 1994.

Despite the crossing time being six times that of the Dover-Calais route, port operators say the unaccompanied trailers and containers using Sheerness will avoid many potential Covid and Brexit obstacles.

The crossing time will be six times that of the Dover-Calais route Credit: ITV Meridian

Richard Goffin, Peel Ports, says there won't be a requirement to check drivers in and out when they travel to the UK because it's unaccompanied.

He said it will also reduce the impact of having trailers sat in ports and other locations that may not have space.

It's also hoped the freight will "clear better" with regards to Brexit, as there won't be drivers on board.

The Gothia will carry up to 165 containers and trailers to and from Calais once a day Credit: ITV Meridian

From June, The Gothia, will carry up to 165 containers and trailers to and from Calais once a day.

It's hoped the use of the single DFDS vessel will create around 100 jobs at Sheerness.

The company says a sister ship to The Gothia is not being ruled out, due to strong demand from hauliers.

Filip Herman, DFDS, says the new ferry route is "attractive" because hauliers don't have to take the Covid test or worry about the waiting times for customs.

  • Filip Herman, DFDS:

The announcement of the new DFDS freight service, was a move welcomed today by Logistics UK, formerly the Freight Transport Association.

Heidi Skinner, Logistics UK, says it "looks forward" to welcoming the business to the county.

  • Heidi Skinner, Logistics UK: