Today and tomorrow I will be attending Multimodal, the UK’s biggest logistics event, held annually at the NEC Birmingham. Two years ago I stood at Peel Ports’ stand in the exhibition hall and announced the launch of a ground-breaking initiative called Cargo200 which set some ambitious targets for UK logistics to reduce costs, carbon and congestion. At the time we had a huge amount of interest from the trade media, customers and logistics companies not only because our Cargo200 Initiative was a ground-breaking approach but also because we were announcing our targets and intentions so publicly. Our aim was to garner the support of cargo owners in the north of the UK to persuade shipping lines to increase shipping services to the Port of Liverpool. Liverpool2, the new post-panamax container terminal which is now open for business, has allowed Liverpool to become the gateway port for the north of England and an Irish Sea Hub serving Scotland and Ireland. But we need more shipping services calling there. Tomorrow morning I will be providing the very latest update on this initiative which has developed into a campaign in its own right.
I will continue the theme at a panel debate in the afternoon. One topic which continues to be widely covered at conferences and panel discussions concerns the impact on ports and shippers of mega vessels and mega alliances. The topic persists because mega vessel deliveries continue unabated and it is only very recently that full deployment of these vessels on entire trade lanes, such as Asia-Europe, has become a reality. I will be participating in a panel debate to discuss the very latest impact and implications of these mega vessels and mega alliances on ports. As shipping lines design their networks for their new mega vessels and choose their ports, I will be urging them to remain customer-focussed, listen to cargo-owners and choose ports which suit their customers. In particular, understanding the origins and destinations of cargoes should allow shipping lines to design products which minimise costly inland transportation requirements.
All of us at Peel Ports in Liverpool, our customers, local and regional stakeholders and the wider business community know full well the actual and latent power of the north of England. The persistence of the UK government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative and its inclusion in the Industrial Strategy Green Paper is testament to strength of the industrial base in the north of the UK. Peel Ports’ Cargo 200 initiative was devised to provide shipping lines with compelling commercial intelligence supporting this point. The large number of importers and exporters who have signed their names against Cargo200 are all reinforcing the same message to shipping lines: “If you bring more services connecting us with more ports around the world, we will put our cargo on your vessels calling at Liverpool because it makes absolute sense for our business; moving our cargo to and from southern ports should be unnecessary and is currently costing us money, time and carbon.”
The inevitable consequence of the introduction of mega vessels is that there are fewer ports of loading and discharge. In the UK this increases cost, congestion and the carbon footprint of cargo owners whose core business is geographically remote from the historically small number of mega ports in the south of the country.
Liverpool2 changes this. There are choices for shipping lines to make. Liverpool2 can handle the largest vessels that exist today. Lines just need to listen to what their customers want.
For more information on Cargo200 and to sign up click here.
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