Port of Antwerp showcases mobility alternatives
Port of Antwerp is holding its annual networking event for port mobility at lunchtime today. For the seventh year in a row the representatives of terminals, rail operators, manufacturers and consignees will discover a series of sustainable, congestion-free alternatives for transport to and from the port of Antwerp. The range of alternatives to road transport gives weight to the call for a “mental shift” as we face the potential disruption caused by the Oosterweel roadworks that are about to start. Now every effort must focus on barge and rail transport. Opt for road transport only as a last resort, and then only at night, is the call by Port of Antwerp.
“It’s obvious that changes to infrastructure alone will not be enough. We need a mental shift in order to make transport not only of freight but also of people in and around Antwerp more efficient,” declared Jacques Vandermeiren – CEO Port of Antwerp.
Port of Antwerp aims to raise the proportion of barge transport from 38% to 42% by 2030. That means getting 4% of the current transport volume off the road and onto the water. The Container Barge Action Plan – a logistics initiative supported by the port community – seeks to further streamline the collaboration between all partners in the supply chain. The Action Plan involves a combination of consolidation, digitisation and scheduling of barge movements. Consolidation means getting barges to carry the maximum possible number of containers. By imposing a minimum of 30 containers per barge the initiative seeks to significantly lower the number of trucks on the Antwerp ringroad.
Port of Antwerp is also strongly promoting the value of shortsea shipping for freight that has to be carried e.g. from Belgium to Spain or Turkey. And as Brexit looms, shortsea is also a promising alternative to truck transport. Even one barge not only takes a large volume of containers off the road but also means fewer customs formalities at the borders.
The Port of Antwerp rail ambitions are no less ambitious, namely to double the share of goods carried by rail from 7% to 15% by 2030. Together with Railport and Infrabel, the Port Authority wants to make more efficient and flexible use of the port’s existing rail capacity. Measures include consolidation of volumes sent by rail, simplified regulations and the Rail Traffic System trial project for digital exchange of information between rail operators and terminals. These initiatives should dramatically reduce the modal share of road transport which currently tops 55%. Steve Declercq – Commercial Manager at DP World – put it this way: “Through better cooperation between maritime terminals and the consolidation of both maritime and continental flows via the rail hub of the AG terminal, we can put more goods on the track on the left bank.”
By night transport
By analogy with barge transport the port community has also held ten or so workshops on getting container terminals to open at night. All the parties involved including terminals, shipping companies and other logistics operators have got together to launch a new trial project. As a result the container terminals on the Right bank will soon be open at night for a period of three months. This is already the case for the terminals and depots on the Left bank. Opening at night is the first and main condition for more efficient use of road capacity. The exact start date of the trial project is yet to be announced.
If everything goes according to plan, the test phase will be followed by a conversion period of two years during which the entire market will be involved in this logistics project. “As a community builder we are collaborating with the port community to create an accessible port. We are pursuing numerous promising transport alternatives, both for freight and for people, so as to guarantee the accessibility of our port during the works” declared port alderman Annick De Ridder.
Source: Port of Antwerp