At the start of January 2018 P&O Ferries reported that it carried more freight between Zeebrugge and Tilbury in 2017 than in any other year in the decade long history of the route.

The integrated ferry and logistics company carried 185,908 freight units between January and December, an increase of 4.3 per cent on last year and surpassing the previous best 12 monthly figure set in 2016.

Nick Pank, P&O Ferries’ Head of Freight – North Sea, said: ‘These outstanding volumes show the growing popularity of the route from the continent to Tilbury, which we expect to rival Calais-Dover as a gateway to Britain within ten years.

‘Given the strategic location of Tilbury – which is the closest port to London and has 18 million people living within 75 miles – the vast majority of the goods we carry are consumables such as wines, spirits, dairy, water and a wide range of other supermarket products.’

“Freight customers like the route because we can load and unload our ships in just four hours, thereby enabling them to get out of the port gates and on to the road quicker than if they travel with any of our competitors. The time it takes for our customers to drop off and collect units at the port of Tilbury is also exceptional – for a trailer it is 20 minutes and for a lift unit it is 30 minutes.”

P&O Ferries operates two ferries on the route, sister ships Norstream and Norsky, sailing 24 times a week in total on crossings which last eight hours each.

Zeebrugge is the company’s main continental hub. Overseas exporters to Britain benefit from P&O Ferries’ dedicated freight routes from Zeebrugge to Teesport and Hull as well as Tilbury.