In practice, the collaboration means that vessels that call on multiple terminals in Moerdijk and Tilburg will be combining cargo destined for a single deep sea container terminal in the port of Rotterdam – and vice versa. “Sea-going container vessels are becoming bigger and bigger,” says Luc Smits, Managing Director of Combined Cargo Terminals in Moerdijk. “And the ‘hinterland’ will need to follow suit by bundling cargo and thinking in terms of corridors rather than simply lining up on the water. This ensures that inland shipping remains a reliable and competitive transport option.”
The initiative came out of the sector-wide inland container shipping consultations launched by the Port of Rotterdam Authority on 8 September of last year. This consultation was organised in response to various reports of increased waiting times at Rotterdam’s deep sea terminals. “We are delighted with the decision of the deep sea terminals, inland terminals and transport companies to take this step and work together,” says Emile Hoogsteden, Director of Containers, Breakbulk & Logistics of the Port of Rotterdam Authority. “It’s good to see these parties thinking in terms of their common interest as a chain, so that they can help improve the smooth handling of inland container flows. This allows us to jointly contribute to the on-going development of Rotterdam and the Netherlands as Europe’s most efficient and reliable logistics hub.”
Every year, over 12 million TEU of containers are handled in the port of Rotterdam, of which over 3 million are shipped in and out by inland vessel. “Collaboration along the main corridors is of vital importance,” adds Wil Versteijnen on behalf of Barge Terminal Tilburg. “It results in scaling up, which is a crucial requirement for every player in the chain.” It’s also why the participants have decided on an ‘open access’ policy for this service, which means any shipper is free to use it. “And the fact that combining vessels has improved capacity utilisation even further is also good news from an environmental perspective,” says Ben Maelissa, Managing Director of the Danser Group.
The initiative also aligns with the cargo transport corridors programme approach, in which the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the Provinces, the Dutch port authorities, Topsector Logistiek and the private sector work together on the development of ‘Topcorridors’.