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DFDS reveals plans for hybrid electric ferry for Channel Islands

Ferry company DFDS wants to deploy a hybrid-electric ferry in the Channel Islands, if it wins the upcoming tender.

The current pan-islands agreement with Condor Ferries expires next March, and Jersey and Guernsey governments will be deciding who will operate a future service. 

The Danish shipping firm DFDS has said it will put in a bid.

In preparation for this, the firm has commissioned Tasmanian ferry manufacturer, Incat, to conduct a design study for a 72-metre-long hybrid electric ferry, which could be converted into a fully electric vessel.

The current design is subject to change, and will do so due to potential requirements of the upcoming tender and wishes of islanders. 

                       Credit: DFDS

The ferry could potentially accommodate both freight and passenger transport and be deployed on routes to and from the Channel Islands from France, should DFDS be awarded the upcoming tender for the ferry services on the islands. 

Torben Carlsen, CEO of DFDS, says it is part of the firm's vision for the future ferry solution for the Channel Islands.

"Electrification of short sea routes is the future, and with the design study we can fast-track the green transition ushering in a new era of low-emission maritime transport. This will not be easy.

"We need to ensure a sufficient power supply on land and infrastructure to accommodate recharging facilities in ports. But I am confident that we can work together with the ports, governments, and communities on the Channel Islands to make this happen.” 

DFDS at the public meeting with people in Jersey

The announcement came on the same day that DFDS held a meeting for islanders to say what they want from a future ferry provider. 

People who attended the Radisson Hotel on 23 April told bosses that reliability and price mattered most to them.

“I would rather pay a fare of £10 more a go, to know the price would be the same in six months' time. I’ve sat on ferries and the person next to me has paid double me for booking it the day after.”

 “Limited ferry services have been detrimental to our sporting events. We’ve had to cancel inter-island competitions. It’s really important you have a decent ferry service where you can have a long day out in Guernsey and other places”

 “95% of our tourists come from the UK. Our clients want the fast ferry. 90% of our client base would rather not come than have to get a slow ferry We lost 40% of our accommodation bookings when the condor ferry timetable came out. This needs to change."

Vice President of DFDS Fillip Hermann at the public meeting with people in Jersey

Fillip Hermann, Vice President of DFDS, told those in the room that he was unable to give any precise details about a potential future offering at the moment.

"We are very keen on bidding on the tender but we haven't seen it yet, its not published. 

"There's a lot of things we can't say at the moment and that's in terms of schedule, which is difficult to talk about. That's why we're here, we want to know what people want. There'll also be a lot of requirements in the tender we'll have to adapt to as well. 

"I'm really excited to be talking to people about what kind of services they want whether its inter-island, northbound, southbound... is it day trips? What are the types of services the islanders want to see in the future?"

He stressed that DFDS is an established shipping company:

"We have a long-term strategy, long-term investment. The type of long-term relationship we could have with the islands is something that we have elsewhere with other regions or governments, and it is something that fits very well with our strategy and the DFDS culture, so that is something we could also bring to the islands."

People in Guernsey will get their opportunity to give their opinions on April 24 at the Duke of Richmond Hotel at 5pm.

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