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Cycle tourists’ favourite ferry withdrawn

2 May 2014 Europe touring
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British cyclists looking for a better life in Denmark will no longer be able to take the Harwich–Esbjerg ferry, beloved of generations of cycle tourists.

Owners DFDS Seaways are withdrawing the ferry, which has been in operation since 1875, at the end of September. They say that new EU emissions rules have made it uneconomic, while the rise of low-cost airlines has caused passenger numbers to drop from 300,000 per year to just 80,000. According to DFDS chief executive, Niels Smedegaard:

“Unfortunately we haven't been able to reduce costs enough to enable the route to bear the very high additional costs of around £2m a year. This is what the new environmental law and the requirement to use low-sulphur oil will cost from 2015.
“The route is of particular historical significance to DFDS so it's a very sad day for us all. Our regrets go to our many passengers who must now see the last passenger ferry route between the UK and Scandinavia close.”

DFDS will continue to run a number of freight services to Scandinavia, including sailings from Immingham (Lincolnshire) to Esbjerg, Brevik in Norway, and Gothenburg in Sweden. There is also a sailing to Gothenburg from Tilbury Docks in Essex. 

These ferries will take cyclists by prior arrangement, though some cycle tourists have reported being ‘bumped off’ to make room for larger trucks. However, the Immingham ferries are more comfortable, modern ships than the Sirena Seaways that served the Harwich-Esbjerg route.

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