Lyme twinning blow as winter ferry service axed

Brittany Ferries forced to take loss-making MV Barfleur out of winter service again

LYME’S plans for a new French twinning link took a blow this week with news that the nearest cross channel cruise ferry is being withdrawn from year-round service.

The loss-making MV Barfleur only resumed operations on the Poole to Cherbourg crossing this February, after being mothballed for a year to save costs.

The boat is named after the Normandy town with which Lyme is shortly planning to formally twin, and would have provided the most convenient ferry route for travel between the two communities.

It is also the closest crossing for Axminster twinners visiting their link town of Douvres La Delivrande.

But this week the Barfleur’s operators, Brittany Ferries, revealed the service was still costing too much to run and would cease on October 3.

Mike Bevens, group commercial passenger director, told The Herald: “When we announced the return of Barfleur earlier this year, we made it clear that this would be subject to a review during the summer and, whilst support for the service by the local community has been very positive, it has not been enough to deliver the required revenue.

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“Unfortunately, with the current depressed state of the economy, freight carryings have also not grown to the extent we were anticipating which, coupled with the relatively high price of oil, means that the operation of this type of service is unsustainable during the winter months.

“I know this announcement will disappoint a good many loyal supporters of Barfleur who were hoping for a year round service, but we have a duty to our shareholders, staff and other customers to maintain a profitable operation, hence the need to make this difficult decision.

“Our plans for next summer on the Poole to Cherbourg route will be determined at the end of September.”