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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 October 2005, 16:39 GMT 17:39 UK
Firm cuts Europe ferry sailings
The Superfast Ferry sails from Rosyth
The ferry first sailed in May 2002
A passenger ferry firm running services from Scotland to continental Europe is to cut its sailings.

Superfast Ferries, which runs daily from Rosyth in Fife to Zeebrugge in Belgium, said it will move from two ferries to one on 8 November.

The Greece-based company said it would now be operating three sailings a week from each port.

The service was launched three years ago and the crossing to the Belgian port takes about 18 hours.

Passenger numbers

It saves passengers and truckers having to drive via Hull or the English Channel ports.

Each ferry can carry more than 1,000 passengers, 120 cars and 100 commercial vehicles.

Figures contained in the 2004 annual report of parent company Attica Group show passenger numbers slipped from 196,000 in 2003 to 192,400 last year.

But freight traffic grew significantly during the same period, with the total number of units being shipped rising from 32,500 in 2003 to 40,300.

In order to compete internationally, Scotland needs direct transport routes to Europe
Bruce Crawford
SNP MSP

The number of private vehicles using the service rose from 37,600 to 41,400.

The firm said the change was a response to "market demand and pursuing European network optimisation".

A spokesman at Superfast Ferries denied the move was prompted by disappointing traffic levels. "We will be maintaining our presence on the Scottish services, with three sailings a week from each port," he said.

"We are confident we will be able to serve the needs of the market with the new schedule."

Under the new schedule the ferry will sail from Rosyth every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, returning from Zeebrugge every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Direct transport

Scottish National Party MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, Bruce Crawford, said the decision was "hugely disappointing".

He said: "Given that both freight numbers and private vehicle numbers were up, it is unclear why the company have decided that operating two ferries is no longer viable."

He called for the Scottish Executive to enter into constructive discussions with Superfast Ferries to ensure that the full service was reinstated by the spring of 2006.

"In order to compete internationally, Scotland needs direct transport routes to Europe and the increased commercial use of this service was testament to this fact," he said.




SEE ALSO:
Ferry service needs more freight
16 May 03 |  Scotland
New ferry link makes waves
17 May 02 |  Scotland
Smuggling concern over ferry route
16 May 02 |  Scotland
Euro ferry docks on the Forth
11 May 01 |  Scotland


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