Freight traffic between Welsh and Irish ports rises after slump

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image captionMany Irish freight trucks had been bypassing Wales due to the new administration required

One of the largest Irish Sea ferry operators says freight traffic is on the up between its ports in Wales and Ireland, following a dip after Brexit.

It was down by half for much of the first three months of 2021 at Holyhead and Fishguard.

Ferry operators said this was partly because lorries from Ireland to other EU countries had started going on ferries direct to France.

But latest Stena Line figures show the reduction in lorry numbers is now 28%.

The figures are for the week ending on Easter Sunday, compared with the same week last year.

The company said at least one major exporter had now begun sending lorries through Holyhead again, and others were sending test loads as they look at returning to the route.

Stena Line had cancelled a number of sailings on the Fishguard to Rosslare route because of reduced demand, but has now reinstated them.

Freight traffic through Fishguard is still down by 59% in the latest figures, compared with the same week last year. But Stena Line said it was confident this would also increase.

Starting on Thursday, the ferry company is boosting the frequency of its sailings between Fishguard and Rosslare from 14 sailings to 24 every week.

Paul Grant, Stena Line's trade director Irish Sea, said: "It has been a very difficult start to the year for the port of Fishguard and the route across to Rosslare.

"The increase in frequency is good news for Fishguard, which had seen services reduced due to lower demand from freight and passengers, as a consequence of both the Covid-19 lockdowns and Brexit.

"As trade flows between Britain and Ireland begin to pick-up we're anticipating that confidence will recover for land-bridge freight movements."

Land-bridge movements refer to lorries from Ireland crossing Wales and England en route to other EU countries.

"Shorter, faster and more frequent routes are always popular with hauliers and their customers," Mr Grant said.

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