The town of Stranraer has been home to a ferry port for more than 150 years but now Stena Line is moving its operations up the coast to a new deep water port in Loch Ryan just north of Cairnryan.
According to Stena, the current route has been running at a loss and Stena Line’s Irish Sea route director Paul Grant said the development secured a future that might not have been possible without the move to Loch Ryan – the move is designed to lower costs and reduce crossing times between Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Mr Grant said it was the “right facility in the right location” and now had the “right ships” to take the business forward for decades to come.
Mr Grant added: “The route has been losing money and that is the harsh reality of it. We couldn’t sustain the route. We have had to make this investment to make this route profitable and give us all a future and keep the jobs and so forth in this area because that is what’s important.”
The development took more than a decade to plan and realise according to Stena Line Loch Ryan project-manager Alan Gordon. Mr Gordon said he believed it was the “right thing to do”.
Mr Gordon added: “It represents £200m worth of investment by Stena Line in Loch Ryan port and two new ships. It shows that there is a future here for Stena Line – it means that Stranraer will benefit because the majority of people that work on the ferries live in Stranraer.”
Local Stranraer historian, Jack Hunter, said: “This is a link that has been in operation for more than 150 years. People are used to seeing the ferries coming and going – it gives them a feeling they are connected to other places. With no boats coming in I think it will give a feeling of isolation, a feeling of being at the end of the line.”
Mr Hunter said the end of the ferries was a moment of “psychological significance” and that “the move would leave a void in the town.”