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Future of Calais-Sheerness freight shipping route hangs in balance

There had been reports that the temporary suspension of the DFDS service will become permanent but a company spokesperson says this is premature

DFDS’ Calais-Sheerness unaccompanied freight sailings were suspended in January Pic: BPfoto / Shutterstock

The fate of the temporarily suspended Calais-Sheerness (Kent) DFDS unaccompanied freight route remains uncertain as the firm says that no definitive decision has yet been taken over its future. 

DFDS paused sailings on January 15, citing “operational difficulties”. The Connexion approached the firm to determine the nature and cause of these difficulties, but it declined to comment further on this point.

There had been reports in the French press that the route would be permanently discontinued, but DFDS has said that this was due to a press release published in error. 

A spokesperson for the shipping company told The Connexion: “The current situation is that the Sheerness route remains suspended, and DFDS is still in talks with partners involved in operating the service. 

“No decision has been made about the future of the route, as this is dependent upon whether a solution can be found.

“Unfortunately, the French coverage has come about because a press release prepared while those talks continue was mistakenly sent out to French media by the agency DFDS uses in France. 

“It was a case of something going out before any decision has been made.”

DFDS launched the Calais-Sheerness freight-only service – through which up to 165 unaccompanied trailers are dropped off, loaded onto a ferry and then unloaded by a different driver on the other side – in July 2021.

When the route was suspended, DFDS said in a statement that: “We sincerely hope the unfortunate situation we currently face will be rectified and DFDS Sheerness unaccompanied services will be reinstated very soon."

Wayne Bullen, freight sales director at DFDS, had added: “There are operational factors which have contributed to the decision to suspend the service.

"We are presently in deep discussions and sincerely hope an acceptable solution can be found soon.

"We remain committed to our unaccompanied freight service which is still available (and supported by our customers) via Dover.”

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