A joint Belgian-Turkish plan would create a 40-ha multimodal hub at the new Kluizendok (basin) in the Belgian port of Ghent, part of North Sea Port (NSP)
The project aims to accommodate ro-ro freight business with the United Kingdom. Of the total 40-ha, for which partners Ekol Logistics of Istanbul and Transuniverse Forwarding of Ghent have signed a Letter of Intent with NSP,10-ha are earmarked for the ro-ro terminal and 20-ha are destined for an intermodal rail terminal, with the remaining 10-ha to be developed for cross-docking.
Currently, Ghent has no ro-ro link with the UK, traditionally one of the Belgian port’s top three axes. It accommodates a DFDS ro-ro service with Gothenburg and Brevik, while Vlissingen, also part of the Belgo-Dutch NSP, houses a C.Ro Ports’ car terminal serving the UK.
The LoI was signed in Ghent by Frank Adins, Chairman of Transuniverse Forwarding and Daan Schalck, CEO of NSP (left and right in above photo), with Ahmet Musul, chairman Ekol Logistics, signing it shortly afterwards in Istanbul.
The ro-ro terminal would be operated by a third party, and negotiations are already under way, it was said at the LoI signing session. The partners believe that "major post-Brexit congestion" in the Channel ports will create opportunities with more northerly UK ports, especially when combined with rail connections with the European hinterland.
Ghent already accommodates a Brexit lo-lo container link with ABP Hull. This service is operated by I-Motion Shipping NV, set up by Ghent traders in June last year to bypass expected congestion of the driver-accompanied Dover Straits route.
The 20-ha railway terminal will be used for both groups’ own intermodal traffics, but will also be open to other companies," said Ahmet Musul, chairman of pan-European multimodal logistics specialist Ekol Logistics, which is a leading exponent of rail-ro supply chains, using trucks for the shortest possible trips to cargo o/d points.
The Turkish company already operates a number of train connections, including between Trieste and Cologne. "We want to expand this to other destinations in Europe. North Sea Port will become a hub for intermodal rail services between Spain, Greece and the Maghreb countries on the one hand, and the United Kingdom and later Scandinavia on the other," Musul added. He aims at running 20 trains a week with an annual 2 Mt throughput.
The 10-ha site earmarked for cross-docking will feature operations of Transuniverse Forwarding. Its current 8,000 m2 centre in Wondelgem, near Ghent, for its groupage business covering EMEA is insufficient to accommodate growth. Transuniverse currently handles more than 100 trucks and intermodal containers per week, and the company expects to double throughput at the new facility within five years. The 20,000 m2 crossdock centre, in the preliminary plans, will be over 300m long and 60m wide and will have140 loading docks. It will be partly automated or robotised, says Frank Adins, chairman of Transuniverse Forwarding Group. It should be operational by late 2021.
Ghent’s Kluizendok was opened in 2010 on 400-ha of port estate, of which100-ha have already been developed, not including the new 40-ha concession. The dock’s quayside has 18m water depth, matching NSP’s new Terneuzen lock at the entrance of the canal linking Ghent with the River Scheldt estuary. The Ghent-Terneuzen canal itself is13.50m deep.