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Final farewell for ferry terminal

PUBLISHED: 14:30 15 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:39 03 March 2010

WHILE the champagne corks pop in celebration across the water at Harwich, there will be an air of sadness at Felixstowe on Monday .

For the port will be saying farewell to a link with the continent which stretches back four decades as its P&O ferry terminal is finally vacated and closed.

WHILE the champagne corks pop in celebration across the water at Harwich, there will be an air of sadness at Felixstowe on Monday .

For the port will be saying farewell to a link with the continent which stretches back four decades as its P&O ferry terminal is finally vacated and closed.

The service – and its three ships Ideway, Flanders Europoort and Freeway Europoort – has been taken over by Stena Line as part of a £150 million deal and in future will run from Harwich International Port.

Both ports are owned by Hutchison Whampoa, which is boasting that the switch across the mile-wide harbour is a "major boost for one of the region's leading ports", increasing Stena's freight capacity by 75 per cent.

But while it is joy for Harwich, it leaves a gaping hole at Felixstowe – though one with potential to be filled either by expansion of an existing ro-ro business, by attracting a new customer, or some fresh use.

Work has been carried out at Harwich to accommodate the ships and this will be officially opened on Monday at 11am by Pim De Lange, area director for Stena Line BV, before the Freeway makes the first sailing to Europoort, Rotterdam.

Bo Severed, Stena Line chief executive officer, said: "The service completes our route network on the North Sea and enables us to offer freight customers three alternatives between the UK and the Continent.

"The route will strengthen our position in the UK and the Netherlands. With 16 daily crossings we will have both the frequency and capacity to match our customers' needs and the right conditions to grow business."

The axing of the P&O North Sea Ferries sailings was not unexpected, and came just six years after it ended passenger services, used by 500,000 people a year.

The Stena deal meant 50 job losses on landside operations at Felixstowe plus doubts over the future of port workers seconded to deal with the P&O ships.

Stevedores who tied up the ferries were given 90 days' redundancy notice by the port owners, with the option of being transferred to shifts on Trinity Terminal.

Crews were assured their jobs were safe as they would transfer with the ships.

P&O said the Felixstowe sailings failed to "to achieve an adequate return, despite the best efforts of management", with no growth in cargo volumes in five years. The time had come to move out of unprofitable routes.

WEBLINKS: www7.stenaline.com

www.ponsffreight.com

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