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A comparative study of the ferry industry in Japan and the UK

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This study analyses key differences between the RoRo ferry industries in Japan and the UK. Data has been obtained from semi-structured interviews with ferry operators, port authorities, government officials and from secondary sources. The respective ferry industries are assessed on the basis of a range of criteria including routes and operators, traffic flows, vessels, ports, and modal competition. Whilst several differences are identified, a clear difference exists in terms of the orientation of ferry services: in the UK, ferry services are predominantly international, whereas in Japan, ferry services are predominantly domestic. Today, approximately one in every four trucks travelling over long distances in Japan is carried by ferry, and this notwithstanding the availability of a sophisticated expressway system. The UK and other countries with long coastlines and congested highways need to consider the benefits to be derived from an effective sea highway, as in Japan. Japan can also learn from the experience of the UK- Europe ferry network. Continued expansion of the network reflects increased trade as a result of the Single European Market, and the RoRo ferry is now arguably the most important transport mode for UK international trade. This is not the case in Japan, where links with nearby countries are rarely maintained by ferries. Hence, research is also required to establish the potential effectiveness of developing a network of fast RoRo ferry links between Japan and its near neighbours, particularly China, South Korea, Russia and Taiwan.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 1999

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