Tale of 2 ports; Rosslare freight up 50% as Holyhead is 30% down

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Brexit's effect on trade and transportation to and from Ireland is clearly illustrated via the comparison of the annual results of Ireland's Rosslare port with those of Holyhead in Wales. Rosslare has thriven due to the changes, with freight traffic up by 50% thanks to the creation of 24 direct routes to mainland Europe being created since 2020. At the same time, the port of Holyhead has seen a 30% fall in year-on-year traffic.

Tale of 2 ports; Rosslare freight up 50% as Holyhead is 30% down
Photo credits @ Flickr/ Rosslare Harbour

Rosslare Europort ended 2021 as Ireland’s number one port for direct RoRo / Pax services to Europe – with over 184,891 RoRo freight units going through the port in 2021, its latest figures show.

This means that the port saw a 50% increase in freight activity in 2021, and with 30 up to services operating weekly between Rosslare and Europe in 2021, the direct activity between the port and continental Europe was up by 371%.

This success happened at the expense of the UK routes though, which declined by 34%.

Overall combined freight at the port grew by 50%, representing the highest yearly growth in the port’s history and demonstrating the national importance of of the port as a key connection for freight and passenger services to both the UK and Europe.

Rosslare Europort general manager Glenn Carr said to RTE the increase in volume at the port demonstrates “the shift in demand for services out of Rosslare from other hubs” and pointed out that Rosslare is the closest Irish port to the continent.

2021 was a sobering year for Holyhead

Meanwhile, the ports of Holyhead and Fishguard have both seen a 30% fall in freight traffic since January last year. That’s according to Ian Davies, the UK boss of ferry operator Stena Line, who operate sailings in and out of both ports.

Davies believes the reason for the significant decline is the change in the trading relationship with the European Union since Brexit.

He said that in January 2021, there was a drop-off in traffic of 50-60%, which has slowly and gradually recovered and the ports are now about “30% down on pre-pandemic 2019 volumes”.

“If we look at the Irish Sea in its entirety, the freight volumes are roughly the same. What has been adversely affected is really the Welsh ports and the Welsh routes so far,” Davies added.

Dublin also affected by changing freight patterns

The port of Dublin also reported a decrease in its freight traffic due to the UK landbridge route traffic declining, though the year on year difference was a more modest 9% cent.

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