The Ouistreham cross-Channel ferry terminal has provided a link between north-western France and the UK since 1986. In the space of 26 years, the Caen-Ouistreham port has become the leading Channel crossing west of the Strait of Dover, handling both passengers and goods in large numbers.
Despite this success, and being the transit point for one million passengers and three million tonnes of goods each year, there were various issues that needed addressing, which were linked to the ferry terminal's previous configuration, explains port operator Ports of Normandy Authority (PNA). Essential alterations to the Ouistreham terminal have thus been set in train by PNA, which owns and runs the port of Caen-Ouistreham as well as the port of Cherbourg.
Channel crossings currently represent 80% of Caen-Ouistreham's overall activity. In a challenging economic climate and with increasing competition in the straits, PNA and the Caen-Normandy Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Caen-Normandy CCI), which operates the Ouistreham ferry terminal and surrounding site, in conjunction with maritime-transport company Brittany Ferries, decided to bolster the hub's competitiveness. As a result, major work to expand and improve the port's facilities was given the go-ahead in 2010.
Completion of the project will lead to a range of improvements to the terminal's facilities and functionalities. Parking facilities for unaccompanied trailers and heavy-goods vehicles (HGVs) will be doubled to 280 places, and the process of loading and unloading vehicles will be optimised and made more secure.
"After 18 months of construction work, the main elements of the project, worth €16 million, have been completed under the supervision of PNA, and are now ready to start operating. Thus, the initial phase of the project is now complete," explains Jean-Michel Sévin, General Manager of PNA.
As part of the second phase of the project, the Caen-Normandy CCI will take over in order to carry out further development work across the site, including modernising the pre-existing platforms, at a total cost of €3 million. Finally, the existing site will be upgraded to enhance user comfort, with improvements due to include new toilet facilities for passengers, together with a re-organisation and extension of the drivers' area. PNA will remain responsible for landscaping and for implementing compensatory measures for the area concerned.
The extension of the port will be officially opened and fully operational this autumn (i.e. before the end of 2012), marking an important milestone in the growth of the Caen-Ouistreham maritime and logistical hub.
Alongside this investment in the physical infrastructure, PNA has been planning for the future of Channel crossings. Given the substantial changes occurring in the market, PNA has commissioned a strategic study to be delivered by the end of 2012. The study into its two ports, Caen-Ouistreham and Cherbourg, is being conducted in co-operation with all stakeholders, i.e. operators, terminal managers, local players involved in the region's economy and tourism sector, and so on.
PNA's objective, in commissioning this strategic study, is to adjust the ports' long-term positioning in a fast-moving market, to take the rebalancing of cross-Channel trade and traffic into account, and, finally, to make the most of PNA ports' strengths and potential.
Photo credits: top picture, ULM Activités - E.Godier; middle picture, PNA.
The ports of Caen-Ouistreham and Cherbourg are owned and run by Ports Normands Associés, known in English as the Ports of Normandy Authority (PNA). PNA's head office is in Caen (Normandy).
The historic region of Normandy is currently made up of two separate regions: Lower Normandy (Basse-Normandie, in French) and Upper Normandy (Haute-Normandie)
For further information about PNA, please go to: www.pna-ports.fr
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