Friday, July 26, 2019

Port, Freight Forwarding and Logistics Groups Club Together in Multimodal Site Development

Brexit Spurs Rail Terminal and RoRo Facilities on 40 Hectare Site
Shipping News Feature
BELGIUM – The Turkish logistics company Ekol Logistics and the Belgian groupage firm Transuniverse Forwarding are together building a 40 hectare multimodal site at Kluizendok in Ghent, part of North Sea Port. The development will include 10 hectares for a cross-docking platform, 20 hectares for a rail terminal and 10 hectares for a RoRo terminal.

Transuniverse Forwarding, Ekol Logistics and North Sea Port have signed a letter of intent to develop this new site. By doing so, the groupage company says that it is significantly increasing its capacity and building an intermodal hub for goods flows between the Mediterranean, Eastern Europe and North West Europe.

Transuniverse Forwarding currently operates a cross-dock centre in Ghent for its groupage shipments to and from the whole of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. In this transhipment building, shipments are brought together and divided between trucks or intermodal containers in order to go to the different destinations. The company says that goods flows have seen strong growth over recent years, which means that the current 8,000 square metre facility has become insufficient. Frank Adins, Chairman of Transuniverse Forwarding Group, commented:

"We have taken an option to build a new 20,000 square metre cross-dock centre on a site covering 10 hectares. According to the preliminary plans, the building will be more than 300 metres long and 60 metres wide and will number 140 loading docks/loading platforms. Because it is so big, some of the transhipment there will be automated or robotised."

According to the current plans, the new transhipment building will be operational by the end of 2021. Because the containers and trailers heading for the UK will be moved by ship, Ekol Logistics and Transuniverse are also building a RoRo terminal building at the head of Kluizendok. Adins continued:

"This terminal will be operated by a third party. Negotiations are already underway. The growth opportunities for cargo transhipment between Ghent and the United Kingdom are considerable. Brexit is expected to cause major congestion in the Channel ports. This will create opportunities to organise transport by ship to more northerly ports in the United Kingdom, in conjunction with rail connections to and from the European hinterland."

These developments are very much in line with North Sea Port's objectives. The port aims to further develop Kluizendok as a multimodal logistics hub in Europe. Daan Schalck, CEO of North Sea Port, said:

"In addition, North Sea Port is encouraging companies to make increasing use of sustainable modes of transport such as rail and water. We expect that this development will make a significant contribution to that."

Transuniverse handles around 100 trucks and intermodal containers per week in Ghent. With the new facilities at Kluizendok, the company expects to be able to double these activities within five years. Every week, 20 Ekol trains will depart from the railway terminal in North Sea Port, linking the port to the European hinterland. The terminal will tranship 2 million tonnes of goods.

The entire project is estimated to generate several hundred jobs, directly and indirectly, whilst Ekol and Transuniverse aim to continue to expand their logistics services. With the available land in the port zone, North Sea Port management says it has plenty of scope for further expansion of logistics activities.

Photo: (L) Frank Adins, Chair of Transuniverse, (R) Daan Schalck, CEO of North Sea Port.