Work to allow the Port of Felixstowe to accommodate larger roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) vessels and improve vessel operational efficiency has been completed, aiming to take advantage of post-Brexit import requirements.
Unaccompanied trailer traffic is expected to rise due to potential driver shortages while full import controls on goods from the EU will kick in during the second half of the year.
The upgrade to facilities at the port, which is run by Hutchison Ports, includes the lengthening of No.3 ro-ro berth and the replacement of the previous hydraulic ramp at No.4 ro-ro berth with a larger floating linkspan.
Chris Lewis, CEO of the Port of Felixstowe, said: “The completion of this upgrade is well-timed. After an initial dip following the end of the Brexit transition period, ro-ro volumes have been increasing in recent weeks and we are seeing certain flows switching to Felixstowe as a result of new import requirements.
“The new ro-ro ramp complements earlier work to increase the number of trailer parking bays at the port and boosts the capability of our ro-ro operations.”
In addition to containers, the port is one of the East Coast’s main ro-ro ports, handling predominantly unaccompanied trailer trade with Europe via the Netherlands.
Ferry company DFDS operates three sailings per day to Vlaardingen in Rotterdam using vessels of 190-250 trailer capacity.
Mark Woodard, DFDS general manager Felixstowe, said: “Unaccompanied trailer traffic is becoming ever more cost-effective for traders. We expect to see a further increase in demand as heavy goods driver shortages intensify and full import controls are implemented on goods from the EU from July 1.
“The improved facilities give us greater flexibility in vessel deployment and will improve the reliability and consistency of service on the route.”
The Port of Felixstowe, with Hutchison Ports Harwich International, Harwich Haven Authority and several local councils and local enterprise partnerships recently submitted a bid for freeport status.
Freeport East aims to offer an inward investment opportunity for companies looking for a base from which to take advantage of shipping connections linking the deep-sea container traffic at Felixstowe with European ro-ro services from Felixstowe and Harwich.