Stena Line announced on Wednesday evening that it is moving its new vessel Stena Embla from Belfast Port and the Irish Sea route to the Rosslare-Cherbourg route.

This change of plan follows the company's announcement on 3 January that the vessel would begin service from Belfast shortly.

Stena claims the vessel has capacity for 3km of trucks and 175 cabins for drivers on the 24-hour crossing.

Clarity needed

What isn’t clear from the Twitter announcement by Stena is if this is adding an extra boat to the route or just replacing an existing boat that is being withdrawn for maintenance.

Demand has increased significantly on the direct route to France from Rosslare Port, with a DFDS boat having been launched on the Rosslare to Dunkirk route at the start of January.

Traditionally, Irish exporters to mainland Europe preferred the landbridge route through the UK because it was faster and cheaper as well as having greater capacity for trucks and perhaps most important of all a much more frequent schedule of boats.

Rosslare sailings

At best, Rosslare had been offering one sailing per day, whereas the Dublin-Holyhead route had a sailing every few hours and there are hourly sailings from Dover.

Since 1 January there has been uncertainty with the landbridge route, and hauliers have been increasingly using the direct route to France from Rosslare. Sailings have been booked out several days in advance as a consequence.

When there is evidence of demand and boats operating at full capacity, ferry companies will quickly switch boats from one route to another.

Demand on the Irish Sea routes has been slow since the start of the year.

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