News: French rescue ferry service

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The final P&O ferry between Portsmouth and Le Havre was due to arrive at the Hampshire port yesterday evening. Until this week it appeared that this historic link, which has been in operation for four decades, would cease. But after a weekend's pause, the route will be brought back to life - though with a once-a-day, no-frills service.

P&O has shrunk its Portsmouth ferry operations because of falling passenger numbers and heavy losses. Brittany Ferries took over the Portsmouth-Cherbourg route. Now another French ferry company, LD Lines, plans to take over the cross-Channel service from Monday.

The shipping company is part of Louis Dreyfus Lines, based in Paris and mostly focused on freight. The vessel being used for the route will be the Norman Spirit. The vessel has fewer facilities as the P&O ship, but its business lounge has wireless internet.

She will sail outbound from Portsmouth at 11pm, arriving in Le Havre at 7.30am. The inbound evening crossing sails from France at 5pm and arrives back at 9.30pm. For a return journey leaving on 3 October and returning a week later, the fare is £154 for two people plus a car. A cabin on the outbound journey costs an extra £40 for two.

LD Lines (0870 458 0401; www.ldlines.com)

Chris Denholm

SHORT-SEA operators are battling for market share across the Channel - and targeting travellers who own property abroad.

From Folkestone to Calais, Eurotunnel has launched a carnet pricing model, where you pay in advance for 10 one-way crossings at £39 each (covering a car and up to nine people), and "spend" them as you wish during the year. On busier crossings, a supplement of £20 or £30 each way is payable - so even at the top rate, you could still get a peak-season in-demand crossing for a maximum of £138 return.

On the route from Dover to Dunkirk, Norfolkline is about to introduce the first of its three new ships. It has a £19 one-way fare for a car plus passengers, if you travel on less-popular sailings.

For the lowest fares book at www.eurotunnel.com or www.norfolkline.com

Simon Calder

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