P&O Ferries handles its highest volume of freight in 50 years
P&O Ferries has announced a record high in its freight handling operation.
In a sign of the continuing strength of exports to and from Britain during last year, P&O Ferries has said it handled its highest volume of freight at its principal continental hub in the Belgian port in 50 years.
The ferry and logistics company, which runs almost 100 sailings across the North Sea every week from Zeebrugge to Hull, Teesport and Tilbury, handled 420,000 freight units at Zeebrugge – where it began operations in 1966 – last year.
This figure surpasses the previous record of 398,650, which was set in 2015, by more than five per cent.
And contrary to expectations that the Brexit referendum in June would adversely affect trade, volumes were evenly split between the first and second halves of the year, according to the company.
Janette Bell, managing director of P&O Ferries, said: "This robust performance shows that structural demand from continental exporters to Britain is continuing to increase and that our hub at Zeebrugge is the key gateway to ports along the east coast.
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"Our customers tell us that they value the number of sailings we run across the North Sea – 98 every week – and our geographical reach along the length of the UK's coastline.
"Our services to Teesport are a point of entry for the north of England and by rail to Scotland, our Hull routes serve the M62 corridor to Leeds and across the Pennines to Manchester and Liverpool, and our sailings to Tilbury put exporters within easy reach of London and the M25."
As well as its North Sea ferry services, P&O Ferries also operates incoming rail services to Zeebrugge from Central and Eastern Europe.
The terminal was enlarged by 14 hectares at the end of last year, so that it now comprises a fourth berth and significantly enhanced rail infrastructure which will almost double annual capacity to 700,000 freight units.
Ms Bell said: "P&O Ferries' competitive advantage comes from the reliability and punctuality of these services as well as our capacity to connect shipments by road and rail, over land and sea, from Eastern Europe to Scotland."
P&O Ferries is a leading pan-European ferry and logistics company, sailing on eight major routes between Britain, France, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Holland and Belgium.
It operates 20 vessels which carry more than 10 million passengers, 1.6 million cars and 2.2 million freight units every year.
Together with its logistics division, P&O Ferrymasters, the company also operates integrated road and rail links to countries across the continent including Italy, Poland and Romania.
A P&O Ferrymasters-owned rail terminal in the northern Romanian city of Oradea, which will facilitate the onward movement of goods to Britain from the Silk Road – an ancient trade route linking China with the West – became operational last year.