(20 September 2019) Brittany Ferries is ready, willing and able to assist UK government with Brexit freight capacity requirements. The message follows confirmation that Brittany Ferries is one of eight firms that have been successfully appointed to the freight procurement framework, and can now bid to bring vital medicines into the UK after Brexit on 31 October.
Brittany Ferries operates an 11-ship fleet and routes on the western Channel, beyond short sea crossings such as Dover-Calais. Three ports in southern Britain, Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth serve five in north west France: Le Havre, Caen, Cherbourg, St Malo and Roscoff. As well as sailings to France, the company also operates routes directly linking the south of England with Bilbao and Santander in northern Spain.
Accordingly, the company is able to offer a credible and viable alternative to short-sea routes come October 31.
“We have been working hard with our port partners and through local resilience forum to ensure we are prepared for any eventuality post-Brexit,” said Christophe Mathieu, company CEO. “Our intention is to keep traffic moving, to support cross border trade and to minimise inconvenience to all passengers, be they freight driver or holiday maker. In addition our ports are currently involved in a series of dry run rehearsals to prepare for the possible consequence of a no-deal Brexit on both sides of the Channel.”
The first of these rehearsals took place on Wednesday 11th September as lorries in Portsmouth embarked the overnight sailing to Caen. They continued the following morning as vehicles disembarked in France in the presence of Gérard Darmanin, French Minister of Public Action and Accounts.
Altogether 15 rehearsals are planned between now and mid-October. These will take place in eight Brittany Ferries ports: Portsmouth, Poole, and Plymouth in the UK, and Le Havre, Caen, Cherbourg, St Malo and Roscoff in France. Five Brittany Ferries ships are also involved: Mont St Michel, Armorique, Étretat, Barfleur, and Bretagne.
The first trial involved around 100 freight vehicles travelling from the UK to France carrying a wide variety of loads including furniture, perfumes, aircraft wings and engines, car parts, fish, tractors, bird food, steel, and salt. The Portsmouth to Caen route is the busiest Channel crossing west of Dover carrying one million passengers, 280,000 cars and 100,000 heavy good vehicles each year.
Describing the tests, Patrice Narozny, director of port operations France added: “Over the last 12 months Brittany Ferries has been actively preparing to deal with a no-deal Brexit. We’ve adapted our IT systems, allowing seamless communication with customs offices ashore. We’ve also implemented a system allowing us to communicate vital information to lorry drivers via text message and onboard live information screens.
“The dress rehearsals allow us to test these new tools and procedures, and also to test the co-ordination between all the different players. Our freight customers, holidaymakers travelling with pets, customs offices, port authorities, and our own operations departments all need to be perfectly co-ordinated to ensure smooth and efficient loading and unloading in our ports.
“That’s why we need to test every part of the process to make sure everything works efficiently and harmoniously. Once this programme is completed and we’ve made any necessary tweaks, we’ll be ready to welcome passengers and freight whatever happens post-Brexit.
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