Four long-established ferry companies, Brittany Ferries, DFDS, P&O and Stena, have together signed a contract with the UK Government worth £77.6 million. Under the terms of the deal, the ferry operators will be responsible for ensuring the smooth supply of critical goods into England’s less congested ports.
Thanks to the deal, the UK Government argue that vital medical supplies and other goods „will continue to be smoothly delivered” to the country, „whatever the outcome of negotiations with the EU”.
The government say the agreement provides for a capacity equivalent to over 3,000 HGVs per week, which shall mitigate the risk of disruption when the UK leaves the EU’s single market. The ferries will operate on 9 routes serving 8 ports in areas the government believe are less likely to experience disruption. These include Felixstowe, Harwich, Hull, Newhaven, Poole, Portsmouth, Teesport and Tilbury.
The UK’s Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has expressed confidence that the deal will allow critical goods to enter the country from the moment the transition period ends:
Securing these contracts ensures that irrespective of the outcome of the negotiations, lifesaving medical supplies and other critical goods can continue to enter the UK from the moment we leave the EU.
The contracts with the ferry operators will come into effect on January 1st 2021 and shall last for 6 months. Interestingly, only one of the 4 companies, P&O, are headquartered in the UK, with the 3 others all based in EU countries.
Meanwhile, the UK Government have also announced that an additional £17 million is to be invested into a major rail upgrade to freight services in Southampton. Just as is the case with the aforementioned ferry contract, the rail investment is intended to facilitate the seamless flow of goods across the country.
Photo credit: Patrick GUEULLE / Portsmouth continental ferry port