Thanet council’s new shipping expert says the authority could buy its own ferry for Ramsgate Port

Photo John Davis

The new shipping expert taken on by Thanet council has said the authority could buy its own ferry to run cross-Channel services from Ramsgate.

Robert Hardy, of Paradox Consulting, is one of the Ramsgate representatives who attended the industry Multimodal expo in Birmingham this month.

Talking to Shipping TV Mr Hardy said: “We have got to write a model as though we are starting our own ferry company. In fact I asked the question when I was brought in why don’t we buy the ferry, why are we relying on someone else to share our view?

Robert Hardy talking to Shipping TV

“It is not our top priority but I have to write a business plan that says that’s what we doing because that might be what we are doing.”

Mr Hardy, who told Shipping TV that he has previous experience of running ferry services after setting up an Adriatic venture with two vessels and previously being a director at P&O, added: “It is not as hard as it looks. Once you have secured the burn money, probably in the region of 8 million Euros, depending on the vessel, and you are up and running.”

Mr Hardy said the list of ferry operators who could be approached was very short, naming just five including  P&O, DFDS and Stena. But he said there is  “huge opportunity” for Ramsgate  to serve the Continental ports of Calais, Dunkerque, Ostend and Zeebrugge.

He added: “Ramsgate’s time is now.”

Council officer Mike Humber was also at the Multimodal show and said TDC is looking at the freight market.

Photo Winnie Wing

He said investment in the last two years has included dredging and refurbishment of Berth 3 meaning Ramsgate Port  can accommodate vessels of up to 180m in length and 6.5 meters draft.

He told Shipping TV: “We are targeting ro-ro freight. We think that is the realistic option and something we can achieve.”

He added that the access tunnel at the Westcliff side of the port meant freight traffic would not go into the town or harbour areas.

In a statement posted on its website after the industry event Thanet council said: “The Port of Ramsgate has a fundamental role to play in the movement of freight between mainland Europe and the UK. The Port can now provide an innovative cost effective solution that will significantly reduce congestion and CO2 emissions.

“The model we are developing is based on a user’s guide and is therefore written as if we are both the hauliers and the ship operators, so that risks costs and benefits can be clearly seen by any potential parties.

“Although the Port does not intend to either purchase or operate ships ourselves, we will be working closely with existing operators and potential new entrants to deliver this exciting opportunity.”

What is the Multimodal event?

Now in its eleventh year, Multimodal is the UK and Ireland’s premier freight transport, logistics and supply chain management event.

Multimodal represents every logistics sector under one roof, making it a unique and highly valued industry showcase.

Shippers and cargo owners attend to improve their businesses; by finding ways of moving their products more efficiently and by meeting new suppliers.

Multimodal 2017 attracted 9,449 attendees.