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Dartford to be Europa central Russia TIR ‘restored’ 8 Issue 5 2015 - Freight Business Journal

Pan-European groupage operator Europa is to move away from its current twin-hub operation, centralising its international groupage

operations on its

new Dartford hub. It will end international hub operations in Birmingham on 1 August, but services from Dartford will be expanded, with more services upgraded to daily departures. The reorganisation will affect

29 jobs at the Birmingham hub but some employees will be offered redeployment elsewhere. The Birmingham sales branch and seafreight office will not be affected and logistics activities will expand into the space vacated by the road freight operation. Europa Worldwide Group

managing director Andrew Baxter (pictured, right) said that he believed that the company, which he acquired in August 2013, would break new ground among UK groupage operators by concentrating services on a single hub, rather than the regional structure favoured by most

competitors. The hub location of most of the UK’s international groupage operations owes more to history than rational planning, Baxter considers. Most have shied away from centralising their operations for fear of upsetting directors and upsetting local sensibilities, he suggests. “Putting all the volume in

one place will give us higher vehicle payloads, and enable us to operate more daily services. In fact, our aspiration is to have all daily lines next year. At the same time, we’ll be able to go direct to more destinations, and reduce our distribution costs in Europe.” It would also eliminate the current trunking between the Birmingham and southern hubs – which affects around 40% of current volume – and reduce the amount of handling. Daily services are more reliable

than twice-weekly services, Baxter points out. “The problem with less frequent services is what to do if you cannot load everything on the trailer; if you put it on the next

departure a few days later, that will lead to delay. But if you only have to roll goods over to the next day, that’s not the end of the world – you can catch up again.” Baxter argues that Europa

would also have an advantage over pallet network operators’ international services, in that cargo would move in a logical flow rather than being sent north to a Midlands hub, only for it to be moved south again to Dover or Folkestone. So far, there was little evidence of the pallet operators making major inroads into the traditional European groupage business – though interestingly, the overwhelming majority of traffic seen in Europa’s new

Dartford hub is in fact palletised for ease of handling. Europa has now completed

the move of its southern hub from Erith to the new 30 million, 26,000sq m facility in Dartford. It was, said Baxter, probably the only major UK hub built specifically for international road operations. One side of the hub is designed for side-loading curtainsided vehicles, common in UK domestic operation, while bays on the other side are fitted with dock- levellers suited to the end-loading units commonly favoured for pan-European haulage. In logistics terms, the Dartford hub is effectively the ‘frontier’ between the UK and the Continent.

Russia said it had reopened 34 border-crossing points to TIR on 18 June, including those with Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Ukraine. It followed an earlier announcement by the Federal Customs Service that it had “resolved the situation with TIR Carnets” and restored its cooperation with the TIR guaranteeing association ASMAP. It has also published a list of border crossing points open to TIR. Russia’s TIR system had come

close to collapse due to a dispute over payment between Customs and ASMAP. Russian Customs withdrew TIR facilities from many border crossing points.

///NEWS The International Road

Transport Union said it welcomed the development, but emphasised that the exact list of border crossing points reopened for TIR has not yet been published and that problems cannot be ruled out for the time being. Speaking in mid-July, deputy

secretary general Marek Retelski said: “There is a preliminary list of 34 border crossings supposed to be open to TIR, but according to the feedback received from the field, carnets are still being refused. We are hoping that the Russian government

will intervene to

solve the issue once and for all in the near future.”

Three-journey rule to go?

A proposal to remove the current three-journey limit on cabotage operations could be included in the European Commission’s new road transport package now expected to be unveiled in early 2016, say Brussels sources. The Commission says that the rule – under which transport operations

are only supposed to carry out a maximum of three domestic cabotage journeys following an international leg - is impossible to enforce. However any changes are likely to be gradual, recognising the differences in working conditions and wages persist between different EU member states.

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