Route switched

‘Unfit’ road sees freight diverted from Scottish port

Lorries are being diverted to better roads

Hauliers are diverting traffic from a Scottish port because of the poor standard of the road network.

Goods being transported across the Irish Sea are now making a direct connection to northern England because the road from Cairnryan in south west Scotland is “not good enough”.

Freight companies say the failure to upgrade the route between the main ferry link with Northern Ireland and the A74 (M) at Gretna means has encouraged them to travel to and from the province via Lancashire or Merseyside.

The A75 in Dumfries and Galloway currently carries £17 billion of freight each year and is the main route by ferry connection to Belfast.

However, it s a single-carriageway road for most of its 100 miles and heavy goods vehicles are limited to 40mph.

Sarah Hards, sales director of AM Logistics, in Larne, Northern Ireland, told the Scottish Mail on Sunday: “We now run about 20% of our freight through Cairnryan but it used to be half until about a year ago when we had to start using Belfast to Heysham or Birkenhead instead.

“We were running out of time using the A75. We move goods from Northern Ireland via Scotland to, for example, the English Midlands, and we want to do it and be back up through Cairnryan in a ten-hour window. Cairnryan is a major port but the roads which service it just aren’t good enough. It could come to none of our freight going via Scotland.”

Nick McCullough, managing director of Manfreight, which also uses the route, said he wanted to double the number of employees based in Cairnryan but will not do so until the road is improved.

“The road for a long time has not been fit for purpose,” he said. “A majority is single lane with speed restrictions.

“We employ over 80 drivers at Cairnryan and we want to double that, because we want to help the economy and we employ local drivers in the areas we are based. But because of the road not being improved we are looking at other links, such as Birkenhead.”

Simon Palmer, a spokesman for Stena Line’s Irish Sea services, said: “You can drive from Belfast all the way to Cork on the southern coast of Ireland on dual carriageway but as soon as you get off our ferry at Cairnryan you are out of a 21st-century port and on to a 20th-century road. We need to put politics aside and improve this vital route.”

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