A rising number of nearly 35 million passengers, 8 million cars and more than 140,000 coaches were carried by Britain’s ferries in 2010, which operated normally in a year punctuated with freak weather conditions that caught out other transport alternatives.
Figures released yesterday (January 17) by industry body, the Passenger Shipping Association, show coach numbers were up 5.6% over the previous year to 142,660, ferry passengers were up 0.4% to 34.94 million while cars carried by ferries rose 0.3% to 7.95 million. The figures cover all of Britain’s 50-plus ferry routes including domestic, continental, and Irish journeys, but exclude Scottish CalMac routes.
In 2010, continental ferry services still carried more passengers than Eurotunnel and Eurostar combined (18.4m compared with 18.3m), and nearly double the number of cars and coaches carried through Eurotunnel (4.19m cars compared to 2.16m through tunnel and 100,130 coaches compared to 56,510 through tunnel).
Irish ferry routes were the fastest growing sector in 2010 with passengers up by 3.1 per cent, cars by 1.7 per cent and coaches 9.7 per cent as total ferry sailings between Ireland and the UK grew 2.5 per cent to 26,342.
In 2010, the ferries finest hour came when they carried some 300,000 additional passengers to and from the Continent and Ireland after airlines were grounded due to the volcanic ash cloud incident. Ferry figure growth for the year would have been higher were it not for a disappointing and frustrating December, when despite operating virtually normally through the unseasonal snow and ice conditions, passengers in their cars and coaches were not able to get to ports due to blocked roads.
“Ferry operators have come to the rescue to serve both their, and others’ customers in this freak weather year” said PSA director Bill Gibbons “and even when road and rail connecting links were struggling in the December snow, ferry services were operating for all those who could get to the ports. With overall ferry traffic rising, we will see significant capital investment and new ships in 2011 along with new routes. The reliability, flexibility and value of ferry travel is now hitting home.”