Competition in the cross-Channel ferry business is set to get even tougher with the launch of a new Dover-Boulogne service next summer.
French company LD lines, who already operate on the Portsmouth-Le Havre and Newhaven-Dieppe routes with sister company Transmanche Ferries, plan to start a traditional ferry service from July 1, 2009.
It will carry freight, foot, car and coach passengers using the Norman Spirit, capable of taking 1,850 passengers, 700 cars and 110 trucks. It will make four round trips a day, with a crossing time of one hour 45 minutes.
The service will inaugurate Boulogne’s new RoRo Hub port development being built on the derelict industrial site by the side of the existing harbour.
The 20 hectare (50 acre) site is being developed as a hub port at Boulogne to deal in freight exploiting its logistic advantages close to major cities, motorways and rail systems, good links with northern ports, and the `Marine Motorway’ between France and Italy.
The port authority, the Boulogne Chamber of Commerce, hopes it will also bring more tourists to the area.
The first berth is being built at a cost of 35m euro, and will be followed by a second in 2010, at a cost of a further 45m euro. The new terminal will accommodate conventional ships and high speed vessels.
The new terminal and the ferry service ferry service will create about 150 jobs, mainly in Boulogne, said Chamber president Francis Leroy.
"This represents a significant development for the future of the port of Boulogne and confirms our determination to regenerate the port’s activities by becoming a major player, particularly in the ever-increasing cross Channel freight market," he said.