Issue 3 2021 - Freight Business Journal

ready for Britain’s longest trains


The Port of Grangemouth has opened its new £3 million rail freight hub. The dual siding of 775 metres – previously 200 metres – can handle the longest freight trains on the rail network. Grangemouth senior port

manager Derek Knox said: “The opening of our new freight rail hub comes at an important time for the freight market as businesses are seeking fl exible, resilient, and greener supply chain solutions.

At the Port of Grangemouth we have the unrivalled position of being truly interconnected for sea to rail and rail to sea, with the added fl exibility of direct road access into Central Scotland and beyond.” Grangemouth has on-site

distribution warehouses with cross docking possibilities and is within a few miles of the main central Scottish supermarket distribution centres.

Large importers should consider setting up their own ETSF (External Temporary Storage Facility) to minimise Brexit disruption, says

technology fi rm, Descartes. Goods arriving into the UK

can be moved to such sites where customs formalities can be managed electronically, eff ectively moving the customs border to the businesses’ own premises. Declarations can be pre-lodged ahead of the goods arriving, as long as it is an approved ETSF solution. An inventory system to group goods at truck level could further strengthen the ETSF so that once a truck physically arrives at the site, the system will trigger the clearance of all its consignments so they can be appropriately managed.

An ETSF system gives supply chain

visibility and audit records to HMRC and Border Force so that if they do want to put a hold on any consignment, the site operator knows instantly which goods are awaiting paperwork or physical inspection – and these can also be conducted at the operator’s site. Even for products that still

require clearance checks at the border such as meat and dairy, performing as many clearance

checks as possible inland speeds up the process, Descartes argues. Import customs declarations

from the EU will be required from July 2021. Safety and Security fi lings for goods moving from the UK to the EU have been a major cause of disruption for freight companies, as customers are required to submit the shipping instructions up to two hours before arrival and, from 1 January 2022, they will also be required from road carriers


bringing goods into the UK from the EU. In addition, traders, hauliers

and carriers moving goods through a UK port using Goods Vehicle Movement Service (GVMS) are now required to register with HMRC for the service in order to transport goods through customs. The extra red tape and permissions needed can cause unnecessary delays and disruption if organisations are not successfully registered.

Traders struggling with paperwork as EU trade slumps



Thanks to your support, we are helping communities to combat COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa.

In Uganda, we have provided advice, cab sanitisation materials and PPE to keep HGV drivers safe, reduce transmission rates and build community confidence in the logistics sector.

In Zambia we have expanded our MAMaZ against Malaria at Scale programme to help rural communities protect themselves, installing hand wash stations, procuring PPE for health workers, and raising awareness through radio adverts, posters and talks. All whilst ensuring our life-saving bicycle ambulance service for patients with severe malaria keeps running.

Figures released by the Offi ce for National Statistics (ONS) on 11 March showed a 40% fall in exports to the EU and a near 30% drop in imports during January – the biggest since the biggest since records began in 1997. They refl ect the severe disruption as a result of Brexit, says a freight industry IT specialist. James Coombes, chief

executive of – which works with freight forwarders and custom agents to process paperwork more effi ciently – said that over two months aſt er the UK offi cially leſt the EU, businesses continue to struggle to adapt to the new requirements, with long delays at ports and, in some cases, perishable goods going to waste. Government grants of a

maximum of £2,000 to pay for practical support are “like applying a plaster to a wound. It doesn’t negate the fact that businesses still need to process the swathes of customs paperwork which demands hundreds – if not thousands – of employee hours. And, right now, there is a huge skills shortage that is yet to be fi lled. The government promised

it would recruit 50,000 customs agents to help with post-Brexit paperwork but only 10,000 have been recruited so far. Our own customers are bearing the brunt of the increased form-fi lling too. One freight forwarder has had to hire 40% more staff since the start of the year.” He said that it was time to get rid

of “archaic processes” and customs paperwork by using technology to automate data entry. The ONS said that the fall in trade

was the result of temporary factors. There were notable reductions in imports of machinery, cars, chemicals and even medicines and pharmaceuticals, despite the movement of the Covid vaccine from Continental manufacturers. Logistics UK general manager

of public policy, Alex Veitch said that the ONS fi gures were broadly in line with the survey evidence his association had gathered from member companies about the impact of Brexit on their work in early 2021. This showed that there were issues in January, perhaps caused by the implementation of new processes but also Covid-19 restrictions, but there have been

improvements since then in the fl ow of goods across the UK’s border. Chief executive of the One

World Express platform, Atul Bhakta, meanwhile described January’s decline in exports to the EU as inevitable as businesses “were given precious little time to make practical preparations for Brexit” and changes to customs procedures, VAT charges and clearance regulations will have dissuaded UK and EU businesses from trading. Indeed, One World Express’ own research revealed 44% of UK businesses planned to cut trading ties with EU partners altogether. But he added: “Nonetheless,

there are reasons to be optimistic. At the moment, we are transitioning out of a challenging period.

UK businesses are

slowly adjusting to the UK’s new relationship with the EU. During this time, new opportunities are emerging, including new trading prospects in jurisdictions outside Europe. High demand for ‘Brand UK’ in South East Asia or India, for example, could prove very lucrative to some organisations.”

UK private ports backer in fi nancial trouble

Concerns are mounting over the owner of a private UK port operator aſt er its fi nancial backer went

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March. Specialist bank Greensill Capital was the main lender to steel magnate Sanjeev Gupta, whose interests include Simec ports which owns and operates Bird Port on the river Usk near Newport in South Wales and port facilities

in Blyth, Northumberland, along with a facility in Whyalla, South Australia. SIMEC, part of Sanjeev Gupta’s

global GFG Alliance, acquired the freehold of the private Bird Port in 2018, and, later in the same year, the Cargo Services UK operating business. Bird Port is directly adjacent to Liberty Steel Newport steel rolling

mill, owned by GFG. Bird Port has three berths -

two short-sea and one deep-sea, warehousing, and a rail connection. Historically it handled over

500,000-tonnes annually of steel products, mostly exports of steel coil plus imports of raw materials and deliveries of recycled feedstock for the steel mill. The port also off ers a covered loading dock.

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