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Hike in ferry fares could push Scottish operators on other routes

  • 19 May 2014
  • By Ashleigh Wight

Plans to increase fares on Scotland’s only freight ferry to the continent next year may force hauliers to look for other routes and put further pressure on the country’s trunk roads.

Ferry operator DFDS Seaways plans to increase fares on its Rosyth and Zeebrugge freight route next year  in order to dampen the impact the cost of new emission regulations, which come into effect in January, will have.

Although the price increase has not yet been set, the ro-ro ferry operator intends to increase the fare when the new EU Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) regulations come into effect. The legislation will effect all ports in the Baltic Sea, North Sea and English Channel.

Road Haulage Association director for Scotland and Northern Ireland, Martin Reid, said the cost of the new fuel and equipment for ships could potentially be passed on to the hauliers using the route, or increase traffic on the roads.

He said: “We have member companies who use the route and subsequent price hikes will undoubtedly affect how they go about their business and whether they look to other routes.”

When the legislation comes into effect fuel prices may increase by 50%, said Reid, as many ferry operators will have to switch to fuel with a lower sulphur content, or fit after-treatment ‘scrubbers’ to ships.

“There is an unanswered question about how much of these costs must be absorbed and how much can be passed on to the client,” he added.

A report on impact on the ferry route last month, compiled by consultancy MDS Transmodal, said the Rosyth and Zeebrugge service helps remove traffic from roads in Scotland and England.The price increase will damage the economics of long distance ro-ro services, it claimed.

Reid said major routes, such as the A1, would need to be upgraded if hauliers decide to seek alternative routes.

“There are of course many justified cries to upgrade the road network,” he added.


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