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Freight traffic continues to increase on English Channel & Irish Sea ferry routes

4.8 per cent rise to more than 4.4m units carried in 2015

The number of freight units carried by ferry companies on the English Channel and the Irish Sea increased by 4.8 per cent to 4.41 million units in 2015, according to figures published today by Discover Ferries.

A strong economy has driven the growth with the amount of freight increasing in all sectors covered by the report – on the “short sea” routes out of Dover, the Western Channel* and the Irish Sea.

The upward trend has continued this year, with freight increasing by 3.1 per cent in the half year to June to 2.26m units carried.

Ferry freight is measured in units, the vast majority of these being driver-accompanied trucks and trailers.

Discover Ferries, which represents 12 UK and Irish operators, publishes regular passenger statistics but this is the first time that freight figures have been published.

William Gibbons, director of Discover Ferries, said: “These are very encouraging figures and they show that the ferry freight industry is in good health – driven by wider economic factors.

“The short sea routes have consistently been the powerhouse of the UK ferry industry but it is also encouraging to see such a good freight performance on the Western Channel and the Irish Sea.

“Ferry freight has proved to be resilient as business on the short sea routes increased despite disruption in June and July last year which led to a shortage of capacity.”

Routes booming

Year-on-year, short sea routes grew by 5.0 per cent to 2.54m, Western Channel grew by 11.1 per cent to 248,000 and on the Irish Sea it grew by 3.8 per cent to 1.62m

In the six months to June 2016, short sea routes grew by 0.8 per cent compared to the same period in 2015 to 1,285,000 units, Western Channel grew by 10.5 per cent to 130,000 units and on the Irish Sea it grew by 5.8 per cent to 843,000.