Newry.ie

Freight capacity on the Warrenpoint to Heysham route is set to increase by 30% with the announcement of a €100M Seatruck investment which will see the popular 11 times a week route operated by two larger capacity ships.

With the UK haulage industry facing a HGV driver shortage between 45k and 50k (ref: Road Haulage Association), the advantages to companies of their containers travelling the Warrenpoint Heysham route unaccompanied is proving increasingly attractive.

Seatruck Performance, one of the new ships on the Warrenpoint Heysham route from later this summer.
Seatruck Performance, one of the new ships on the Warrenpoint Heysham route from later this summer.

Alistair Eagles, Chief Executive of Seatruck Ferries remembers the first Seatruck sailing in 1996. “I clearly remember watching the very first Seatruck sailing from Warrenpoint in 1996. Even back then we had a very strong belief in our business model, our service and our future strategy.

“Adding larger ships to the Warrenpoint route is the next logical step for Seatruck and I have no doubt that it will be very popular providing more unaccompanied trailer space to our growing customer base, as the industry seeks solutions to the ongoing driver shortage.

“The larger vessels underline the need for the Southern Relief Road which will connect Warrenpoint Port directly to the main Belfast-Dublin motorway. Seatruck fully support this key piece of infrastructure.”

Regardless of what way Brexit pans out the Chief Executive stressed the importance of the route  “Whatever the outcome of the Brexit land border negotiations, Warrenpoint Port will continue to be a cornerstone of the Seatruck operation."

The expansion will see the four-deck Seatruck Precision and Seatruck Performance replace the current three-deck vessels.The vessels were built in Germany in 2012 and are proven Irish Sea ships that are currently on charter to another operator although they were originally designed for the Warrenpoint service.

In welcoming the announcement, Clare Guinness, Chief Executive of Warrenpoint spoke of the need for more space at the port as well as the importance of the planned Southern Relief Road “This is a significant investment by Seatruck Ferries and is a clear commitment to Warrenpoint Port and the wider Newry, Mourne and Down district, which will directly benefit from the increase in trade.

Seatruck Ferries CEO Alistair Eagles joins Clare Guinness, CEO, Warrenpoint Port to announce a €100 million investment to increase capacity on Warrenpoint to Heysham route by 30%. Photograph: Paul McCambridge
Seatruck Ferries CEO Alistair Eagles joins Clare Guinness, CEO, Warrenpoint Port to announce a €100 million investment to increase capacity on Warrenpoint to Heysham route by 30%. Photograph: Paul McCambridge

“We have a strong relationship with Seatruck and the Port is supporting the company with the provision of additional terminal areas.

“Our recently launched Masterplan outlined our vision for the development of the Port for benefit of the wider economy and community. Part of that strategy is to grow freight ferry volumes and this welcome announcement will assist the Port in realising that vision.

“It also makes all the more pressing, the need for increased space at the Port which must also be supported by key infrastructure projects such as the South Relief Road.”

The announcement has also been welcomed by Mary Meehan, CEO Newry Chamber of Trade and Commerce who commented “Any increase in trade for the region is to be welcomed and I congratulate Seatruck on its investment in Warrenpoint and the Newry area.

“The Newry Southern Relief Road now becomes even more a priority for the Department for Infrastructure to improve connectivity across the region and support the growth of our local businesses.”

The expansion on the route is planned to begin at the end of August/ start of September with the two larger freight ferries deployed on the route. It will mean the route will be able to carry 30,000 additional trailers annually on the crossing.

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