Instead, all terminals connected to the bonded internal lane will use their own transport and drivers, including mutli-trailer systems, Allard Castelein, the CEO of Rotterdam port authority (HbR), told press at the annual review last Friday, 15th January.
“The precise operational procedures have yet to be decided mutually with the terminal operators, and we aim for effective and efficient logistical agreements. No new entity will be created to manage it."
As previously discussed, the closed, dedicated internal lane (or container exchange route - CER) is aimed at facilitating unhindered inter-terminal container traffic and so reduce the need for terminal hopping by inland barges or trains. They will no longer have to call at various terminals with small call sizes, as is the case now. A toll system will return HbR's investments in the 20 kms of roadway, estimated at €80M.
“Enabling all marine terminals to act as one virtual terminal is essential to accommodate container volume growth and moreover the massive increase Iin deepsea ships call sizes,” said Castelein, adding that operators will no longer have to disperse resources on smaller barge and rail calls. The intermodal scale economy brought about by the CER should increase service levels and lower costs, as barges and trains will make fewer stops.
Castelein added that the first stage is planned to come on stream early 2018. It will connect all Maasvlakte terminals, depots and the Distripark, including the Maasvlakte II terminals Rotterdam World Gateway and APM Terminals II, although Euromax will not be linked before early 2019 as it requires an additional 10 kms long stretch to connect it via Maasvlakte II's outer sea dike.
While Drewry is forecasting a 4% fall in container volume in Western Europe in 2016, Castelein believes that Rotterdam can equal its 2015 volume of 12.2M TEU, which was 5% down on 2014 (the mid-December forecast was 12.3M TEU). He said the port has strengthened its position as both first and last call on the North West-Far East services. The number of "second calls" (ie eastbound to Asia) by ULCS [10,000 TEU +] increased from 85 in 2014 to 200 last year.
Castelein added that Rotterdam witnessed a 10.1% growth in ro-ro traffic last year to 22 Mt thanks to the improving British economy and diversions from the Dover-Calais ferries and Eurotunnel.
Asked whether Rotterdam has a strategy to retain this diverted business if the Calais crisis is resolved, he said that this has been a special focus of HbR dialogue with ro-ro lines for the past 18 months. The goal is to improve operational processes even further, and at this juncture a harbour dues incentive is not being considered.