Friday, January 13, 2017

Freight Falls Short of Sector Average for Port Boulogne Calais But Still Better than Passenger Traff

French Coastal Ports Suffer in Wake of the 2016 Migrant Crisis
Shipping News Feature
FRANCE – Despite our recent upbeat piece mentioning Cross Channel traffic, the Port of Dover in particular, it seems things have not been quite so rosy throughout the past year across the water at Port Boulogne Calais. These two distinct locations at Calais and Boulogne-sur-Mer now choose to be viewed as a collective enterprise under the development umbrella of the Société des Ports du Détroit, so events at one can mitigate or enhance the results of the other. 2016 it seems was quite successful in terms of freight tonnage, unfortunately outside influences acted negatively against this.

Any regular reader of this, or indeed any news source, will be aware of the tragic circumstances surrounding migrants trying to reach Britain from France leading to the rise, and eventual demolition of the infamous ‘Jungle’ camp. The movement of freight however, whether it be the maritime transit of wartime convoys, or a column of trucks running the gauntlet of stone throwing would be stowaways, to borrow an entertainment industry phrase, is a show which must go on.

Passengers however are of course a distinctly different case and fear of travelling through the French ports was a major factor in last year’s decline. Whilst ‘civilian’ traffic fell short in 2016 of 112,052 cars (down 6.96%), 695,559 passengers (down 6.8%) and 7,269 coaches (down 8.3%) compared to 2015, freight totals, although poor when compared to the sector growth of 6%, still managed a 3.38% upturn with 1,909,011 trucks passing through.

The commercial terminals both in Boulogne and Calais showed promising results in 2016 but much of this was no doubt due to the amount of traffic entering to supply the Calais Port 2015 construction site. Tonnage in Calais equated to 1,224,978 tonnes whilst Boulogne handled 616,367 tonnes.

The Boulogne Calais Port is operated by the Société d'Exploitation des Ports du Détroit (SEPD), which is undertaking the Calais Port 2015 project intended to double the capacity of the Port of Calais, with completion expected in 2021. The SEPD entrusted the project's completion to the Société des Ports du Détroit and the scheme is one of the largest French projects of the decade and the first maritime project to be undertaken as part of the Juncker EU priority infrastructure plan. Jean-Marc Puissesseau, CEO of the Port Boulogne Calais commented on the results, saying:

”2016 was a deceiving year despite the good performance of the fishing activity in Boulogne and the outstanding results of our commercial terminals. The dismantling of the migrant camp in Calais allows us to be more hopeful for 2017 but we must recognise that the situation around the port prevented our services from operating under normal conditions for most of 2016.

”I remain confident in our capacity to innovate and get back on our feet. The upcoming restart of the Le Boulou-Calais rail motorway by VIIA as well as the important efforts made by our team to improve the overall quality of our services gives us reasons to be hopeful in our capacity to regain our market share in 2017."