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Western Channel: Brittany’s Le Havre surprise

Despite making cuts on other Western Channel routes, Brittany Ferries are launching a high-speed passenger and vehicle service between Portsmouth and Le Havre to operate Thursday to Sunday each week from 17 May to 16 September using the 97m Incat Normandie Express.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 passengers are being targeted in year one as the 2000-built catamaran offers a morning return trip to Le Havre as well as a later Portsmouth-Cherbourg service; this route also receives a daily connection from Monday to Wednesday. The new Le Havre link replaces seasonal weekend trips toCaen.

Passenger Commercial Director Mike Bevens said: ‘Bookings have bounced back this year, and we saw an opportunity to increase our range of destinations and provide even greater choice for customers. The schedule is ideal for those who want to minimise their travelling time, with an 0700 departure from Portsmouth and an arrival at Le Havre of 1145 (local time).’

The move has still caused surprise, as LD Lines tried a Portsmouth-Le Havre fast service in 2010 and 2011 with the larger Incat Norman Arrow, but did not extend the charter of the 112m craft, previously used unsuccessfully between Dover and Boulogne in 2009, prior to it going to Mols Line last year at the start of a ten-year deal with Dublin-based owners 066 Fast Ferry Leasing.

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