The new Port of Calais has been officially opened following six years of construction. Regarded as the largest European port infrastructure project of the decade, the extension and modernisation at the port represented an investment of €863m.
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 million 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.