Stena Line considers extending Dublin ferry arrivals to ease Brexit congestion

Dublin Port says any staggering of arrival times would be helpful with new UK checks

Stena Line is willing to stagger arrivals slightly but they fall short of the port’s demand for three-hour intervals

One of the largest shipping operators into Dublin Port has offered to extend ferry arrivals from Holyhead by between 25 and 40 minutes to avoid post-Brexit congestion at the port.

Stena Line and Irish Ferries were asked by the port to stagger ferry arrivals from Holyhead by three hours to reduce the potential for traffic jams after border controls come into effect in January.

The companies have, between them, eight ferries arriving into the port every day in pairs from the Welsh port in four waves six hours apart with just 10 minutes between some arrivals.

The port is concerned that, with new border controls being introduced on a huge volume of goods arriving from Britain, this will lead to delays and has asked for three-hour arrival intervals.


Stena Line, which operates the port of Holyhead, is willing to stagger arrivals slightly but they fall short of the port’s demand for three-hour intervals. Irish Ferries is sticking with its schedule.


Stena is looking at slight timing changes to its Dublin-Holyhead ferry schedule but wants any changes to be temporary should they not work out.

The ferry operators have insisted that the arrival times are determined by what their customers want because ferries currently put lorry drivers into Dublin at times that suit deliveries and distribution.

Eamonn O’Reilly, chief executive of Dublin Port Company, said that he could not comment on the contents of any discussions between the port and “either or both of the ferry companies”.

“We have a long-term objective of achieving a three-hour separation between successive arrivals from Holyhead. We need to do this to spread the volume of port activities as evenly as possible through the 24 hours of each day and through the 168 hours in each week,” he said.

“With post-Brexit border controls coming into operation in just 26 days’ time, any greater separation than currently exists between successive arrivals from Holyhead would be helpful in flattening the demand curve as a first step towards achieving our long-term objective.”

Mr O’Reilly said that it would “obviously reduce the risk of Brexit delays to the businesses of the ferry companies and of their customers, the hauliers and cargo owners”.

Commercial sensitivities

He said that “as and when we receive a request from a ferry line for different slots than they currently have, we will respond rapidly to the line”.

The ferry arrival times were the subject of heated exchanged between Mr O'Reilly and Independent TD Verona Murphy at the Oireachtas transport committee last week.

Mr O'Reilly told the Wexford TD, a former Irish Road Haulage Association president, that the port would be "up in the courts" if it tried to change arrival times, citing commercial sensitivities.

The annual volume of non-EU goods in containers and lorry trailers that will become subject to border controls after Brexit will surge from 200,000 transport units to 1.1 million from January 1st.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times