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Town to lose cross-Channel ferry

20 December 09 13:06 GMT

A cross-Channel ferry to France which has been operating from a Dorset town for the past 17 years will be withdrawn due to declining passenger numbers.

Brittany Ferries said the Barfleur ferry between Poole and Cherbourg had been losing money since 2003 and would be taken out of service in the spring.

But the firm revealed it had bought a new £75m ferry to increase sailings from Portsmouth to northern Spain.

Poole councillor Ron Barker said the move was a blow to tourism in Dorset.

'Totally devastated'

"Poole and Cherbourg have been twin towns for almost 30 years and it will have a cultural impact," added Mr Parker, vice chairman of the Poole and Cherbourg management committee.

"This is [also] a bitter disappointment for the economy of both towns with a loss of tourism trade.

"We are totally devastated to lose the Barfleur - 80% of the passengers who travelled on it were from the UK."

Stephen Tuckwell, from Brittany Ferries, said: "The new ship will operate three days a week to Cherbourg.

"We are also beefing up the number of departures from Poole to Cherbourg using the freight ships, so it is not the end of commercial operation to Cherbourg.

"But it does mean a switch from Poole to Portsmouth."

Mr Tuckwell went on to say that the high-speed Normandie Vitesse ferry to Cherbourg had "done very well" compared to the Barfleur since its launch in 1998.

He added that "every effort" would be made to "limit the number of job losses" which "would be voluntary".

Mr Tuckwell also indicated some of the staff could be transferred to Portsmouth to work on the additional services.

It was recently announced that the 24-year-old Portsmouth Continental Ferry Port is to be demolished in January to make way for a new £16m passenger terminal.

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