Page last updated at 12:49 GMT, Saturday, 10 January 2009

New Thanet ferry route announced

Stephen Ladyman MP
Stephen Ladyman said celebrations should be saved until the service starts

A new fast ferry service is planned between Ramsgate and Boulogne from March, an MP has revealed.

Stephen Ladyman, MP for South Thanet, said the route would be operated by a new company, Euroferries, after several years of negotiations.

According to the company website, the journey will take 75 minutes on a 320ft (98m) high vessel, which has shops, restaurants and a first class area.

Dr Ladyman said: "This could be great news for Ramsgate and East Kent."

The company will also operate an express coach service linking the ferry to London via Ramsgate, Canterbury and the Medway Towns.

'Fingers crossed'

Dr Ladyman said: "It will bring visitors to our area and provide work for shops, hoteliers and transport companies.

"At a time when most economic news is bad this is a patch of blue sky opening up."

He said he had used his experience as shipping minister to help him deal with negotiations between investors, the Port of Ramsgate and Thanet Council.

The ferry is expected to arrive in Ramsgate in the middle of February for a start on 1 March, he added.

"Until then we need to keep our fingers crossed that no problems arise - I'll breathe a sigh of relief when I see the service started and we should save our celebrations until then," he said.

A new once-a-day return service from Dover to Dieppe, Normandy by French firm LD Lines will also start on 2 February.

The company also plans to introduce a service on SpeedFerries' Dover-Boulogne route from 1 July with seven daily low-cost crossings.

SpeedFerries stopped operating between Dover and Boulogne in November when its vessel was seized by customs officials and the company went into administration.

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