DUNFERMLINE and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman travelled to Copenhagen for talks with the company he hopes will re-start the ferry service between Rosyth and Zeebrugge.

In Denmark, he met with the senior vice-president of DFDS, Kell Robdrup, and Derek Sloan, the chief executive of Ptarmigan Shipping, to discuss freight, passengers numbers and ships and receive an update on proposals to re-open the route next year.

The Rosyth ferry stopped sailing in 2018 and Mr Chapman said: “It was a pleasure to be in Copenhagen this week to catch up with potential partners DFDS and build on positive discussions moving forward on this vital ferry link.

"While there is a lot of financial movement across the project from inflation, pressure on currencies and household budgets which may affect spending, I do believe there is a strong desire on the part of DFDS to have the direct freight and passenger service up and running by early 2023.

“There are a few issues with Border Force and the availability of the vessel we want but neither issue is a deal-breaker and work continues behind the scenes."

Mr Chapman has long campaigned for the reinstatement of the Rosyth ferry and added: "I left Copenhagen in a very positive frame of mind knowing that we've never been closer to delivering a reliable, cost-effective direct maritime link from the heart of Scotland and into the heart of Europe.

“PS, potential customers, get in touch!”

In June, DFDS and Ptarmigan Shipping signed an agreement "to further investigate the possibility" of re-opening the route with a target date of early 2023 for freight.

And while the Scottish Government have had well-publicised problems with ferry contracts, the project received backing at the SNP conference last month.

This week, a spokesperson for DFDS told the Press: "We are always looking for opportunities to grow our network, including investigating the possibility of a new ferry route between Rosyth and Zeebrugge.

"We have engaged in discussions with the ports and are now approaching the market to look for commitments for freight volume.

"This is needed before we can commit to operating the route, which currently has no timeframe."

A direct sea route between Rosyth and Zeebrugge opened in 2002 when Superfast Ferries launched the service.

It was then taken over by Norfolkline and stopped carrying passengers in 2010, when it became a freight-only ferry.

DFDS became the operator but it reached the end of the line shortly after a fire on board the Finlandia Seaways ship in April 2018.

The company could not find a replacement and “lost all hope” of turning around losses.

In the summer of 2019, talks were at an "advanced stage" between the Scottish Government and Perthshire firm TEC Offshore, who wanted to operate a ferry service between Rosyth and Eemshaven – a port near Groningen – in the north of the Netherlands.

However, those plans ran aground amid complaints of a lack of support.