Ghent and Vlissingen, part of the Belgo-Dutch North Sea Port (NSP), are to be connected with the vast inland container terminal network of BCTN in Belgium and the Netherlands
BCTN, probably the largest operator of inland barge container terminals in the Benelux, will initially call at the two ports two or three times per week.
The ports will be called by separate barges, and will not be wayports in BCTN’s daily Antwerp and Zeebrugge services, David Huybrechts, Commercial Director, BCTN Group told WorldCargo News. The Ghent barge will sail to and from Meerhout in Belgium, and the Vlissingen barge will sail to and from Alblasserdam in the Netherlands. Meerhout is claimed to be the biggest inland barge container terminal in the Benelux.
The new services’ main berths will be the Interface Terminal in Ghent and Verbrugge in Vlissingen, which recently acquired MSC’s reefer loop. It is understood that both Interface and MSC have given baseload commitments.
The inland hubs provide onward barge spoke connections with BCTN’s four (soon five) other Dutch inland barge terminals and its two other Belgian terminals. Alblasserdam and Meerhout also act as hubs for "last mile" truck pick-up and delivery, Huybrechts added.
“A market leader like BCTN incorporating North Sea Ports in its network is an important signal of our growing significance," NSP’s CEO Daan Schalck is quoted. Both Huybrechts and Schalck hope that the enhanced hinterland coverage will increase the appeal of Ghent and Vlissingen for new UK ferry and shortsea links with the UK.