The Dutch-owned short-sea shipping line Transfennica (part of the Spliethoff Group) has announced that it is to cease its “Motorways of the Sea” ro-ro service between Bilbao, Portsmouth and Zeebrugge at the end of this month (December).
The decision is a direct result of the introduction of stricter new low-sulphur emission controls from 1 January 2015 in the Baltic Sea, the Kattegat, the North Sea and English Channel. A further SECA extends in a 200 nautical miles wide belt along the coasts of the USA and Canada.
The route was started in September 2007, which attracted €6.8m (US$8.5m) European Union funding, was designed to offer an alternative to moving goods by road from Spain to northern Europe and the UK. Over the years, the service has seen a steady increase in volumes.
In a statement, the company said: “Due to the upcoming sulphur emission control area (SECA), which will result in increasing fuel costs, it is expected that up to 50% of the trailer volumes will return to the road”.
It continued: “The Board of Directors of Spliethoff Group therefore had to decide there is no profitable future for a ro-ro service on this route”.
The move does not impact other Transfennica routes or the activities of Transfennica Logistics, which will continue its intermodal activity to and from Spain and Portugal.
The logistics company is active in door-to-door transport, forwarding and warehousing in Bilbao, operating 40ft and 45ft palletwide containers between Spain and Portugal, UK and the Benelux, as well as to and from Finland and Russia.
It will continue to operate its present lo-lo service offering and will increase the use of rail services to and from the Barcelona and Madrid areas by opening a second facility in Barcelona in January 2015.
This is the second casualty to the new SECA controls; earlier this year DFDS announced the closure of its Harwich to Esbjerg route at the end of this year (2014).
(See Editor’s Comment in the December issue of CM)