TRIPS by boat to Scotland for the thousands of Donegal people who make the journey every year are set to get faster – and more comfortable.
Tim Hedgley, Donegaldaily.com’s Travel Editor was there to see Stena Line’s new Stg£80 million Loch Ryan and terminal facility in Cairnryan officially opened yesterday by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and Stena Line Chairman Dan Sten Olsson.
The new 27 acre port is one of the most modern port facilities in the UK and heralds the start of a new route between Scotland and Ireland, which will be serviced by two new ships, Stena Superfast VII and Stena Superfast VIII, the largest ferries ever to link the two countries.
The new ships will complete the crossing in 2 hours 15 minutes and will operate 12 scheduled sailings per day between Cairnryan and Belfast.
The opening of the new port brings Stena Line’s recent investment in the service to a massive Stg£200M, which also includes the opening in 2008 of the VT4 port in Belfast, and safeguards the ferry link between Scotland and the North for the next generation.
Dan Sten Olsson, Chairman of Stena Line told donegaldaily.com: “This is a historic day for the people of Scotland and Ireland. The long term future of this important ferry link between both countries has been secured for future generations and I’m delighted that Stena Line has been able to play its part in maintaining a connection between both countries which goes back more than 150 years.
“This investment represents one of the biggest financial route commitments ever made by Stena Line and I’m delighted that after years of planning and hard work the day has finally arrived when we can enjoy using one of the most modern port and terminal facilities in the UK.
“We have built a facility that will support and stimulate both leisure and freight markets and we are confident that this and the next generation will continue to see ferry travel as an important part of their travel plans.
“I am confident that our leisure and freight customers will see that we have taken great care to meet their needs constructing a service and facilities around them and I look forward to the prospect of Cairnryan – Belfast becoming one of the leading ferry services on the Irish Sea.”
Speaking at the opening First Minister Alex Salmond said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be at the Loch Ryan port to open this hugely impressive and important new gateway to Scotland. It is exciting to see how this former brownfield site has been transformed into a 21st century ferry port in less than two years, safeguarding hundreds of jobs at the terminal and ensuring this historic ferry link continues for generations to come.”
Scheduled sailings from the new Loch Ryan Port began on Monday November 21st with 10 crossings per day which will increase to 12 sailings from December 5th.