One of the largest municipal ports in England and Wales, the Port of Ramsgate now provides the only passenger ferry service between the Channel ports and Belgium.
Operated by TransEuropa, passengers can choose from eight sailings a day between Ramsgate and Ostend. Freight services have been operated by TransEuropa between the two ports since 1998 and currently six ships make the crossing up to 20 times a day.
Of the 26 municipal ports in England and Wales, Ramsgate is second in turnover only to Portsmouth. Owned and operated by Thanet District Council’s Maritime Services division, the Port has seen freight volumes increase threefold over the last six years, with commercial ferry movements growing by 15% in 2003.
Set on 32 acres of dedicated port land, the Port of Ramsgate has three modern Ro-Ro bridges, capable of accommodating conventional Ro-Ro fast ferry freight services. Full passenger and freight vessel facilities allow the Port to operate and service the three berths simultaneously, allowing Ramsgate to handle up to 500,000 freight units and five million passengers each year.
The Port can accommodate vessels of up to 160 metres in length with 6.5 metres draft with no tidal restrictions and has the capacity to handle multi-decked vessels, stern and quarter ramps. With easy access to the open sea, it takes an average of 20 minutes from berth to clearing a buoyed channel and access is possible at all states of the tide and in most weather conditions.
In 2002, the SEAPORTS study predicted that cross channel freight was likely to increase annually by 3.7%, while passenger traffic would grow by 4.3% per annum. Using these projections, there will be a shortfall in channel port capacity by 2016 of more than 1,000,000 freight units per year.
The Port of Ramsgate is well placed to play its part in contributing to meeting this demand for increased passenger and freight facilities in the south east. With a dedicated £30 million road into the port and dual carriageway links to the M2 motorway, driving times between Thanet and the outskirts of London have been cut to just over an hour. High speed passenger rail services are expected to start in 2009, cutting the journey time from Ramsgate to London to just 63 minutes.
The Port of Ramsgate operates an aggregate import facility, in partnership with Brett Aggregates, which can accommodate vessels of up to 60 metres in length, carrying 1,200 tonnes of cargo. Type one, crushed slag and crushed limestone is imported, which is then used for road and building bases.
With sufficient available land and deep water to allow future diversification and the availability of hard standing and berthing slots, The Port of Ramsgate is well placed for short sea shipping trades and to capitalise on the predicted over capacity in the channel ports in the next 10 years.