Leading ferry operator Stena Line reported the trend-bucking year-on-year increase for January to June 2009 on its dutchflyer service across the North Sea, ascertaining the demographic of travellers contributing to the growth through research by economic consultancy Experian.
The dutchflyer service, which comprises rail travel from London Liverpool St and East Anglian rail stations to Harwich, ferry crossing to the Hook of Holland and onward travel to any station in Holland, has experienced increasing popularity. Between 2007 and 2008 Stena Line reported 39 per cent annual growth in dutchflyer traffic.
The success of the dutchflyer rail and sail package comes against the backdrop of a 2.8 per cent year-on-year decline in passengers leaving the UK out of BAA’s seven airports, Eurotunnel’s 15.8 per cent dip and a 5.3 per cent decrease in English Channel ferry traffic from 2007 to 2008.
Experian “Mosaic” research to identify and categorise those using dutchflyer recognised that 26.71 per cent fell into the “urban intelligence” group, which subdivides into two main types of traveller:
· Counter cultural mix - young, well informed professionals; trendy city dwellers; some in good jobs and others with lower incomes
· City adventurers - 20-something high-flying singles with pressurised, high-salary jobs; often London-based
Previously, travellers using Stena Line’s dutchflyer service had been predominantly cash-poor students and backpackers.
Dermot Cairns, general manager, travel, Irish Sea said, “The rising popularity of Stena Line’s rail and sail service over the past year has been a significant trend in itself, but it’s interesting to note that the main travellers contributing towards dutchflyer’s growth are now young, trendy city-dwellers and ambitious, workaholic singles.
“These groups have started considering alternatives to air travel because they’re less cash-rich and even more time-poor than in the past, so the overcrowded chaos at airports and exorbitant departure taxes are deterrents. The dutchflyer service links London and East Anglia with Dutch cities via rail stations and ferry decks from £35 one-way.
“We’re seeing a particular increase in dutchflyer passengers taking the overnight ferries so that they arrive at their end destination early the next morning without having had to pay accommodation costs in euros or endure 4am check-in for a flight”.