The largest diesel-powered catamaran to operate the cross-Channel route between England and France will be introduced at the end of next month, it was announced last week.
French company LD Lines will start operating the high-speed 367ft (112m) Incat ferry on its Dover to Boulogne route from May 29 – with journey times of one hour.
The company said it will be the first freight-carrying high-speed vessel to operate across the Dover Straits and will provide greater comfort than earlier generation fast ferries.
The catamaran can carry 1,200 passengers, as well as 417 cars or a combination of 195 vehicles and 567 lane metres of freight.
Managing director Christophe Santoni said: ‘With this introduction, “we will be offering a unique, combined high-speed and conventional ferry sailing frequency, providing great appeal and choice, to meet the demands of tourist and freight customers and create new markets.’
A spokesman for the company told the Daily Telegraph: ‘Catamarans have proved very costly to operate previously and none of them have managed to successfully establish and sustain a long-term business particularly across the Dover Straits.
‘This was caused by the high cost of fuel, which did not allow them to run efficiently, and their inability to carry freight made them very inefficient to operate outside of the peak season.
‘However, fuel prices have reduced in the last 12 months and the new fast ferry can carry freight as well.’
The fast ferry, which weighs nearly 11,000 tonnes, will operate up to four return sailings a day between Dover and Boulogne.
Two return sailings a day to Boulogne and one to Dieppe will continue to be operated by conventional ferry.
The Incat ship can carry caravans, motorhomes and coaches in addition to freight.
LD Lines stepped in to replace Speed Ferries after it failed in November last year.