Ostend mayor announces plan for Ramsgate ferry operation

Ramsgate Port and harbour Image Thanet Council

The mayor of Ostend has announced today (October 9) that a ‘basic agreement’ has been made for a ferry line between Ostend and Ramsgate.

Mayor Johan Vande Lanotte says the route will start with freight but there are hopes for a passenger service to begin shortly afterwards.

The announcement has been made in the run up to the 2018 elections in Ostend.

In a social media statement mayor Johan Vande Lanotte says:The Board of Management of the Port of Ostend has reached a basic agreement with Seaborne freight for the launch of a new RoRo line Oostende- Ramsgate, which is due to start on March 1, 2018.

“It is a guided freight, ie lorry drivers who cross the Channel with their freight.The intention is that three ships will be deployed with six departures a day.

“With regard to employment, 60 people will be able to get started. There is an option to do passenger transport later on, but only during the big vacation.

“In the coming weeks, the arrangements for the new RoRo line should be further elaborated:-

  • The financial conditions and guarantees between the initiators and the Port.
  • The security measures of the terminal that will be carried out by the initiators themselves. These must be agreed with the security services.
  • The general safety measures that must cover the possible presence of transit migrants. If a complete agreement has been reached on these three points, the board of directors will give final approval.”

The announcement, which has today been broadcast of Belgian TV, has not  been confirmed by Thanet council although council leader Chris Wells said: “I can confirm that we continue to have discussions with several interested parties around the possible commencement of new ferry services from the Port of Ramsgate, including Seaborne Freight.”

A council spokesman said there have been ongoing discussions with different parties but no agreements have been signed.

Seaborne Freight is a UK company incorporated in April this year by marine consultant Roy Dudley.

Ramsgate is the second closest UK port to the continent with capacity to handle up to 500,000 road goods vehicles per annum.  Thanet council says the port is ideally situated to provide multimodal transport solutions that will link directly with France and Belgium and also connect with existing rail and sea networks both in the UK and across Europe and the Baltic.

The port has been dormant, apart from a temporary deal with car shipper GEFCO, since TransEuropa Ferries filed for bankruptcy in April 2013.

Thanet council was left with an unpaid debt of £3.4 million accrued by the ferry firm in port fees.

No ferry service has operated from the port since that date.

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