Return of Rosyth ferry link with mainland Europe edges closer

Fresh round of talks held over possibility of restoring services to Belgium.

Rosyth ferry to Zeebrugge: Step forward for direct link to mainland Europe iStock

A ferry link between Scotland and mainland Europe could be restored following a fresh round of talks.

Danish-owned ferry operator DFDS has an agreement with Ptarmigan Shipping to investigate bringing back a direct freight route between Rosyth and the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

Further studies are being held about the possible return of a passenger service on the route.

An MP who has been campaigning for the link’s return said he had recently held talks with DFDS about “freight and passengers”.

A spokeswoman for DFDS said: “We are always looking for opportunities to grow our network, including investigating the possibility of a new ferry route between Rosyth and Zeebrugge. 

“Since then, we have engaged in discussions with the ports and are now approaching the market to look for commitments for freight volume.

“This is needed before we can commit to operating the route, which currently has no timeframe.”

Passengers last travelled on the crossing between the Firth of Forth and the port, north of Bruges in Belgium, in 2010, after which the route became freight only.

However, it was terminated completely in 2018 when one vessel caught fire on the journey and was deemed economically unviable to continue.

A 2023 target for the relaunch of the ferry was set at the SNP conference in Aberdeen earlier this month.

Douglas Chapman, the party’s MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, has been campaigning to re-establish the ferry route and was recently in Denmark for talks with DFDS.

Douglas Chapman, the MP for Dunfermline and West Fife.

Chapman wrote on Twitter: “A very positive meeting with the team ⁦DFDS in Copenhagen to discuss freight, passengers and ferries.”

Greek firm Superfast Ferries operated the overnight route from 2002 to 2008 with a crossing time of around 17 hours before it was taken over by Norfolkline.

The MV Scottish Viking – the vessel which sailed on the crossing – was at the centre of a probe in 2010 when it collided with a small fishing boat off the coast of Berwickshire, resulting in the death of one of the men on board.

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