A key figure in the new project is Seaborne Freight chief executive Jean-Michel Copyans, 59, a ferry industry veteran who began his career with the marine operations of French state-owned railway company SNCF.

Copyans was freight director at MyFerryLink, which was set up following the liquidation of SeaFrance. But that company was driven out of business by the UK Competition Commission due to its links with Eurotunnel that also operates cross-channel services.