Tourist and business travellers will be badly affected by the government’s emphasis on freight and their plans for Operation Stack in the planning for post Brexit without a deal.
Dover is the busiest passenger port on the planet with over 80% of all passenger traffic by sea and tunnel going through Dover and Folkestone, and over 20 million people travelling by car every year. Long delays both sides of the channel while vehicles undergo stricter security checks could see waiting times extend from minutes to hours and a repeat of the long tailbacks of 2016 and 2018 when there were delays of up to 14 hours. Not only has the government’s contracts for extra freight capacity hit a hurdle with the cancellation of the Seaborne contract, but they have made no provision for passenger traffic.
RHEG, a campaign group set up in 2015, is calling for the restoration of the DFDS route from Harwich to Esbjerg which would not only provide the extra freight capacity required but restore a much-needed passenger service that has been missed by many, both sides of the North Sea, since its closure in 2014 after 140 years of service. With Sirena Seaways, since leased to Brittany Ferries, returning to DFDS in April it gives them a golden opportunity to provide long term sustainable travel and provide alternatives to the bottleneck that is Dover. Our long-term trade worldwide post Brexit in any event would see many benefits with the re-establishment of the route, both in the immediate vicinity of the ports and further afield.
With the backing of close to 12.000 signatories, and members both sides of the North Sea working hard on the subject, the RHEG group are calling for an end to the long haul across northern Europe to visit family and friends in all parts of Scandinavia and the UK. With the advances in cleaner fuels and the return of duty-free sales, surely now is the time to restore this important link with continental Europe.
RHEG is ready and willing to engage with all parties with the means and ability to restore this route and can be contacted via the links.