'Bitter blow' as ferry firm ends Dover passenger service

A ferry firm is to end its Dover to Boulogne passenger service from next month, it was announced today, dealing a "bitter blow" to the industry.

LD Lines said it was considering options to continue the link with a freight-only service and would make a decision "in due course."

The news followed a previous announcement that one of its two ships on the Dover-Boulogne service was transferring to a new route between France and Spain.

LD Lines' managing director, Christophe Santoni, said: "Whilst we are disappointed to have to announce the ending of a tourist passenger service between Dover and Boulogne, as the addition of a second ship has not generated the extra traffic volumes we had hoped for, we will continue to explore every option to try and maintain some form of ferry service to Boulogne.

"A return to profitability can only be achieved for the ferry industry by adjusting supply to demand, increasing prices and market consolidation. Whilst there remains huge over-capacity on the Dover Strait, we are addressing this issue now by looking to see if such a revamped service is economically sustainable, despite a continually difficult trading climate."

LD Lines said both its Norman Bridge and Norman Trader ferries will remain operating a combined passenger and freight Dover-Boulogne service until September 5 and all passengers booked up to this date will be unaffected.

Steve Todd, national officer of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said the move was "yet another bitter blow" to the UK shipping industry and to the Port of Dover in particular.

"RMT will continue to fight for the defence of jobs and for the future of ferry services in the UK which we know are coming under a major attack at ports right across the country.

"We are seeking an urgent meeting with LD Lines to look at ways of protecting the jobs of the staff who are caught in the middle of what is shaping up to be one of the biggest downturns in the UK ferry industry for many years.

"The Government cannot sit idly by while a key section of the UK's remaining shipping industry is ripped to shreds."

The RMT estimated that up to 100 of its members were affected by the decision.

LD Lines' three other cross-channel ferry routes, Portsmouth-Le Havre, Newhaven-Dieppe and Ramsgate-Ostend, are not affected by today's announcement.