Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Amsterdam Air Cargo and Ocean Freight Looks for Sustainable Improvement

Schiphol Announces Tonnages Whilst Port Improves Rail Facilities
Shipping News Feature

NETHERLANDS – Amsterdam has historically had an amicable battle with nearby Rotterdam to be top dog in the local freight business and both air and sea cargo sectors have made some headway this month in the ongoing tussle to be recognised as not just local, but international, leaders in their field. Schiphol, the country’s primary air hub, reported improved cargo throughput figures in the three months July-September, the best quarter in 2012 to date, with a total of 373,988 tonnes.

The figure was marginally down on the same period last year, 1.8%, but the period also saw exports exceed imports for the first time since at least the first quarter of 2011. This was influenced by strong exports to Asia, North America, Africa and Latin America in July. Overall figures for freight moved in the first nine months of this year at just over 1.1 million tonnes was 2.7% down on 2011- reducing the year-to-date shortfall from 3.3% in August, the figure being helped by September’s 2% growth. Schiphol Cargo Senior VP Enno Osinga, commented:

“Considering all the ongoing problems in Europe and the USA at present, we are very satisfied with these figures, which could have been very much worse. It’s very interesting to note the recent swing towards exports, which may have been caused by the weak Euro encouraging overseas buyers. This is good news for our carriers, who are now enjoying more even utilisation of capacity in both directions.

“There is still little prospect of significant or sustained growth in the short term, and we will therefore continue to focus on our longer-term dual strategies to promote greater efficiency in processes, and stimulate new sources of traffic such as pharmaceuticals. Both will eventually further strengthen our position as the preferred gateway for European air cargo exports and imports.”

Full statistics for cargo handled through Schiphol are viewable HERE. Meanwhile the Port of Amsterdam and ProRail officially opened the modernised freight railway lines at the Aziëhavenweg and Westhavenweg at the end of September. The refurbished freight marshalling yards meaning a cleaner, quieter and faster future for rail traffic at the port. ProRail is the part of rail infrastructure owner NS Railinfratrust, responsible for allocating track capacity,maintenance and any extensions to the national railway network. The Aziëhavenweg marshalling yard has been made suitable for electric freight transport and the Westhavenweg marshalling yard has been equipped for long freight trains of up to 750 metres. As a result, the western port area complies with European requirements, making further growth possible.

Sustainability and environmental concerns are always at the heart of any new venture which the port undertakes and these latest projects are no exception. The electrification and lengthening of the trains means a valuable drop in pollution and energy consumption and ProRail undertook the opportunity for a soil cleansing exercise under the Westhavenweg marshalling yard.

The Port of Amsterdam, the fourth largest in Europe, is targeting becoming one of the most sustainable ports in Europe, with more cargo of all types transported by water and rail and less by road, hence the latest investment which reinforces the connection to the Betuwe freight line at Geldermalsen which links to the German border at Zevenaar and onward into the European hinterland and beyond.

Photo: A still from one of the excellent Port of Amsterdam webcams (viewable HERE) which are available to anyone and give the ability to control the camera direction.