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  • 2021 September 16 16:14

    The new Port of Calais officially inaugurated after six years of construction

    Photo: Port of Calais
    Considered as the largest European port infrastructure project of the decade, the new port of Calais was inaugurated on September 9, 2021 in the presence of: Louis Le Franc, Prefect of Pas-de-Calais, Xavier Bertrand, President of the Hauts-de-France Region, Natacha Bouchart, Mayor of Calais, President of Grand Calais Terres & Mers, Jean-Marc Puissesseau, President of the Société d'Exploitation des Ports du Détroit.

    The extension and modernization of the Port of Calais represented an investment of €863 million. An innovative financial package combining public and private funding from the Hauts-de-France Region, Europe, the Hauts-de-France Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Caisse des Dépôts and Meridiam.

    Delivered on May 5, the Port of Clais was officially inaugurated on Sept 9. It is scheduled to be commissioned in October. Located at the heart of of the busiest, most active maritime straits in the world in terms of passenger and goods transport, the new Port of Calais was designed in 2002 on the initiative of Calais' Chamber of Commerce and Industry, then concessionaire of the Port. This port extension and modernisation project was designed to anticipate and adapt to the development of cross-Channel traffic, new-generation ships and logistics and industrial needs of tomorrow.

    With heavy goods traffic which has practically doubled and a volume of cross-Channel freight which has tripled over the past 20 years, the infrastructure of the Port of Calais no longer made it possible to ensure an optimal quality of service. Once the port's capacity limit had been reached, the extension appeared essential. Beyond increasing the capacity of the terminals, the challenge was also to accommodate future generations of ferries over 220 metres long which require longer docking quays and whose manoeuvres require larger basins.

    The extension of the Port of Calais includes a seawall of more than 3 km long, a 170-hectare basin, 90 ha of which are navigable in the first phase, 65 ha of platforms and roads, three new ferry berths, as well as 39 buildings necessary for the operation and secure reception of port customers. To meet the challeges of the ecological transition, the port's design incorporates the constraints of climate change and strictly respects commitments to preserve flora and fauna. The new the Port of Calais represents a tremendous development opportunity for the Calais area and for the entire Hauts-de-France region.

    With 100 ship movements every day and soon a departure every 36 minutes, Calais is the leading French passenger port with 8.5 million passengers annually (2019 figures). While the health crises had a strong impact on tourists traffic in 2020, a recovery is on the horizon. Today, attracting more European passengers is a major challenge for the Port of Calais and its three shipping companies operating there, namely DFDS Seaways, P&O Ferries and, most recently, Irish Ferries since June 2021. As part of its metamorphosis, the Port of Calais is banking on the quality of services offered and the comfort of its customers to increase its tourists appeal. The new passenger building, constructed on the edge of the basin and accessible from the boarding areas, enjoys considerable advantages: a 1000 m2 duty-free (see below), a large restaurant area and children's play space which further adds to the range of services and improves passengers' waiting experience. Its all-glass, transparent design offers a marvellous view of the basin.

    Having disappeared in July 1999, duty-free is making a big comeback on the cross-Channel route. The duty-free shop will cover 1000 m2 on the ground floor of the Le Calais building in the customs area, accessible directly from the boarding areas. A click & collect service will also be offered to travellers who can easily pick up their purchases after placing their order on the internet" it will open in October when the new port comes into service.

    The new port provides Calais and Hauts-de-France region with and exceptional facility that resolutly looks to the future. Beyond its extension and modernisation, its merger with the Port of Boulogne, its recent quadruple ISO certification as well as the association of employees with the capital of the company - unique in a French port - make Port Boulogne Calais an incomparable model in Europe. The six years of work are just a first step: the configuration of the port will continue over the decades depending on traffic and the needs of companies to meet the cross-Channel challenges by 2100

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