The new Port of Calais was officially inaugurated last week following six years of construction.
Thought to be the largest European port infrastructure project of the decade, the extension and modernisation at the port represented an investment of €863 mill.
A 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 Depots and Meridiam, was put together.
Operational since 5th May, the Port of Calais was officially inaugurated on 9th September and is scheduled to be commissioned in October.
Located on one of the busiest, most active maritime straits in the world in terms of passenger and goods transported, 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 the 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 old infrastructure no longer made it possible to ensure an optimal quality of service. Once the port’s capacity limit had been reached, its extension appeared essential, the port said.
Beyond increasing the capacity of the terminals, the challenge was also to accommodate future generations of ferries of over 220 m in length, which require longer berthing quays and whose manoeuvres require larger basins.
Extension work included a seawall of more than 3 km long, a 170 hectare basin, 90 hectares of which are navigable in the first phase, 65 hectares 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 challenges of the ecological transition, the port’s design incorporates the constraints of climate change and strictly respects commitments to preserve flora and fauna.
With 100 ship movements each day and soon a departure every 36 minutes, Calais is the leading French passenger port with 8.5 mill passengers annually (2019 figures). While the health crisis had a strong impact on tourist traffic in 2020, a recovery is on the horizon.
Today, attracting more European passengers is a major challenge for Calais and the three shipping companies operating out of the port – DFDS Seaways, P&O Ferries and, most recently, Irish Ferries, since June, 2021.
As part of its enhancement, Calais is banking on the quality of services offered and the comfort of its customers to increase its tourist appeal. For example, the new passenger building, constructed on the edge of the basin and accessible from the boarding areas, enjoys considerable advantages: a 1,000 sq m duty-free shop, 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 view of the basin.
Having ceased in July, 1999, duty-free is making a comeback on the cross-Channel route. As a result, the new duty-free shop will be located 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.
Beyond its extension and modernisation, the Port of Calais’ 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 administrators claimed.
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.
On 22nd July, 2015, the Port of Boulogne-sur-Mer and the Port of Calais became within the framework of the Public Service Delegation granted by the Hauts dc France Region, owner of these two ports – the single port ‘Port Boulogne Calais’.
Operated by the Societe d’Exploitation des Ports du Detroit (SEPD), which is based in Calais, the Port of Boulogne-Calais is a platform that brings together France’s leading fishing port, France’s leading passenger port, continental Europe’s leading port for roll on – roll off traffic and Europe’s leading centre for the processing and marketing of seafood. It is also the fourth largest French cargo port.