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Issue 6 2014 - Freight Business Journal Liverpool digs deep


Migrants besiege cross- Channel freight operators

The freight industry has once again found itself caught up in an immigration crisis at the French ferry port of Calais. Ever larger numbers of increasingly desperate migrants are attempting to board Dover-bound trucks, including one incident on 3 September in which 85 refugees tried to storm their way aboard the MyFerryLink Berlioz. The Freight Transport Association added that 300 stowaways being discovered on 69 lorries in just one day. Meanwhile, Calais Mayor

Dutch marine engineering specialists Van Oord has started dredging the Mersey estuary in preparation for Liverpool2, Peel Ports Group’s £300m deepwater container terminal. Material dredged from the sea bed will help build the Seaforth triangle in the new terminal.

Evergreen unveils new service

Evergreen Line has revealed details of its new services to Liverpool and Dublin. It will offer a twice-weekly service to Dublin, once a week with its own independent service on a weekly shuttle service operated by the 698teu Vega

Stockholm and once a week with a slot exchange arrangement with common

carrier X-PRESS feeders. As part of the same slot

exchange the carrier will also take

space on the X-PRESS

weekly service to Liverpool, also connecting to deep-sea line-haul service via the line’s Rotterdam hub.

Overall transit times to

and from both ports will be enhanced and there will be more trans-shipment possibilities in Rotterdam. It will also give a better service to and from other regions of the UK, including the North of England, Midlands and Scotland.

Study calls for probe into Britain’s empty boxes

The Independent Transport Commission (ITC) called for a case study to explore how the movement of empty containers in the UK can be reduced in its interim report published on 16 July. Author Nick Gazzard, CEO of Incept Consulting says that possible subjects of investigation could include a study of containers in and out of Scotland to try to reduce the current shortage of container supplies to

the Scottish whisky industry. The ITC also wants further in-

depth research into port centric distribution including case studies, either independently or collaboratively, and for it to be made available to planners, developers and UK government departments. Other possible areas for discussion include innovative urban distribution solutions. The report identifies important

ways in which the UK freight and logistics industries might improve efficiency in the light of factors such as re-shoring of production back from Asia to the EU and US, growing container ship sizes, sustainability policies and growth in on-line shopping and commerce, which is fragmenting traditional supply chains. At the formal launch of the interim report in London,

Natacha Bouchart accused the UK Government of failing to tackle the problem of immigration, arguing that the country is seen as a ‘soſt’ option with a relatively benign approach to illegal entrants. A blockade of the port might be considered, the Mayor added. However, the UK Government’s

position is that the French and other EU governments have not honoured agreements whereby migrants should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach and instead have encouraged them to move on to the English Channel ports. The French authorities did in fact close the semi-official migrants’ camp at Sangatte near Calais but since then an unofficial encampment has sprung up almost at the port gates. In a letter to Madame Bouchart,

FTA’s managing director of policy and communications, James

Gazzard described empty boxes as an intractable problem, but he was determined to find a way to fix it. If the huge amount of empty space leaving UK shores could be used, “a whole bunch of benefits would result,” he said. However, attempts to use this

capacity were hampered by a lack of decent data, constraints on the rail network and the fact that available containers were not

Hookham said that FTA members share her frustration and anger adding: “National governments have failed to take this problem seriously and have leſt local authorities and small businesses to confront a problem of international origins and of world significance.” FTA has previously written

to the British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond asking for him to raise this matter urgently with the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, but has yet to receive a reply. FTA is also worried about the

impact from any closure of the port in the approach to Christmas. A spokesman for Eurotunnel

said that the freight shuttle operation had not suffered to the same extent as the ferries; security at the tunnel terminal was much better than the port, and in any case the tunnel was accessed direct from the autoroute, making it much harder for unauthorised passengers to try and slip aboard trucks. He added: “We spend €10- 15m a year on security. We have a good perimeter fence, cameras, detectors and military patrols.” (The British Government has

in fact offered the temporary fence erected at the Nato summit in Wales to the port authority in Calais.) The Eurotunnel spokesman added: “However, we are not

always a suitable size. “Frankly, I wouldn’t have a clue where to get the data from,” he admitted. Later, Forth Ports’ CEO

Perry Glading calculated that around 30% of the 200 million UK container truck miles a year were empties. The port of Grangemouth, a major outlet for the Scottish whisky exporters, took in around 32,000 empties a year. Portcentric logistics could

complacent. This really isn’t a problem that can be solved locally – the governments of Europe really need to take much more concerted action and apply European law – that migrants should seek asylum in the first EU country they reach rather than being moved on until they reach Calais.” Drivers using the Tunnel

are reportedly now being told not to stop in unsecured areas within 200km of Calais as there have been reported attempts by migrants to board trucks as far away as Rouen. Eurotunnel is adding a further 370 fully serviced truck spaces at its Calais terminal, but there remains a fundamental lack of secure truck parking throughout Europe. FTA says that detected attempts

at illegal entry into the UK increased by 58% (8,400 to 13,300) during April to December 2013, compared to the same period in 2012. The events in Calais follow an

incident in mid-August, when 35 Afghan Sikh refugees were discovered inside a container belonging to Irish Contiental Group subsidiary Kersten Hunik. One member of the group had died. The container had arrived on

Zeebrugge and three individuals from Northern Ireland were subsequently

charged human trafficking offences.

be part of the answer, along with redistribution of containers by rail or coastal shipping, although the current grant regime needed to be made more shipping- friendly if the latter was to thrive. Also, the mix of container sizes didn’t help – 20’ and 40’ units predominate in deepsea trades, but 45’ are the preferred size for short-sea and intra-European moves.


board a P&O ferry from

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