Swedish ferry operator Stena Line signs 77-year deal with Liverpool ports operator Peel Ports to increase capacity on its Irish Sea routes. Tony McDonough reports
Stena Line has signed a major deal with Liverpool-based Peel Ports committing to Irish Sea ferry services for the next 77 years.
Last week Stena announced it was to reintroduce its Birkenhead to Dublin ferry service early in 2024. In the mid-2010s the Swedish ferry firm axed its daily Liverpool to Dublin service from the 12 Quays terminal in Wirral.
It currently operates a twice-daily return service to Belfast using the vessels Stena Edda and Stena Embla.
Now Stena has agreed a new deal with Peel Ports that will see it commit to operating from Peel’s Heysham Port in Lancashire until 2100. The Swedish operator already runs a twice daily freight service between Belfast andHeysham.
Earlier this year, Stena Line and Peel Ports signed a similar agreement for the 12 Quays Terminal in Birkenhead to operate from the Mersey until the end of the century.
This year, Stena Line announced it is making a multi-million-pound investment in the Belfast-Heysham route with two‘NewMax’ ferries, which will boost freight capacity by 80%.
With the first vessel due to begin on the route in 2025, these hybrid ferries will be equipped to operate on methanol fuel marking a key milestone in Stena Line’s roadmap to sustainable shipping.
Peel Ports, working collaboratively with Stena Line, plans to invest in new terminal management and a ‘smart gate’ automatic check-in system to improve customer experience at the port, and will increase the parking for trailers.
Niclas Martensson, chief executive of Stena Line, said: “Our business on our Belfast-Heysham route has thrived in recent years and is a vital connection for freight transport across the Irish Sea.
“With the upcoming introduction of our NewMax hybrid ships, this route represents a unique opportunity for Stena Line to offer our freight customers more sustainable transport between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.”
Both Stena and Peel will aim to secure the shore infrastructure to provide additional electrical capacity to facilitate the future goal of powering the new ships by green shore power.
David Huck, chief operating officer at Peel Ports, added: “We have been collaborating successfully with Stena Line for many years and it’s fantastic to establish another long-term agreement with the business.”
Stena Line is the largest ferry operator on the Irish Sea, with the biggest fleet providing up to 238 weekly sailings.