Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum by the British Ports Association (P 16A)



  Container feeder services were set up on the Tyne to handle the deep sea containers for the Nissan Car plant. This was followed by a second service operating a single company service for both their feeder service and door-to-door between the Iberian Peninsular and the Baltic. The volumes continued to grow until 1996 and they seemed to plateau and levels were fluctuating around 15,000-16,000 units per annum with three to four ships from three companies calling per week, principally with import cargo.

  During this time dedicated facilities for container handling were developed: there is now a complete service available, ie total supply chain management, where required:

    —  discharge;

    —  container compound control;

    —  deliver, either by road or rail;

    —  "de-stuffing"/stuffing of containers; and

    —  warehousing and distribution.


  In year 2000 it was obvious that demand from the main shipping lines was increasing and we decided to market the services much more actively. What was quickly established was:

    (1)  there was serious congestion at the large Southern Ports;

    (2)  hauliers were reducing truck fleets because of poor profitability and driver shortages; and

    (3)  rail freight could not cope.

  The alternative was to use the Short Sea Feeder Service.

(a)  Ex Rotterdam

  Depending on the port rotation of the deep sea ship, containers for the North East could be discharged from the mother vessel to the feeder vessel in Rotterdam and arrive two days earlier at reduced cost to the shipper/carrier.

(b)  Felixstowe

  The feeder route is Rotterdam/Felixstowe/Tyne/Grangemouth so North East containers are also collected at Felixstowe.

  Following the Hatfield rail problems the deep sea lines took advantage of the short sea feeder and found that they maintained a much more reliable service to their customers, and transit time and costs were lower.

  As a result, 22,300 units were shipped in Year 2000, a 44 per cent increase on 1999. Until now the service has been primarily focused on imported goods and the deep sea lines are now asking for export calls and empty container repositioning calls from the Tyne.

  The Feeder company has responded by increasing the number of calls to four per week from the end of March (not yet announced, one call of which will be direct ex Rotterdam. This will bring the number of container ships calling at the Tyne to six per week.

  We expect at least a further 25 per cent growth this year. The aim being to capture more imports and now to actually target exports from the North East area which currently, in many cases, continue to be transported to South Coast ports by road or rail.

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