Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Two Ports Celebrate with New RoRo Freight Ferry Terminal Open and First Container Ship Respectively

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UK – SWEDEN – Big news from two of Europe's newest port developments this week as Tilbury2 in Essex saw its brand new freight ferry terminal for unaccompanied trailers and containers open for business, whilst across on the Baltic coast Sweden's newest freight facility, Stockholm Norvik Port, welcomed its own first container vessel.

As we reported earlier this month, the trials at the RoRo facility at Tilbury 2 went perfectly allowing the largest such unaccompanied UK facilities to officially open for business. With the potential pitfalls of Brexit looming, plus the added complications of drivers travelling on ferries during lockdown, the timing of the new 500,000-unit freight-only facility would appear to be perfect. Charles Hammond, Group Chief Executive of Forth Ports, said:

“This is an important time for the UK as we emerge from the lockdown. Our new freight terminal is the country’s most modern ferry port offering a seamless and lower carbon route to the biggest consumer market in Europe, Greater London. Despite the current challenges we have delivered a resilient terminal with significant headroom to grow as we pursue our vision of being the nation’s strategic freight gateway to-and-from Europe. We believe that this terminal opening is a symbol of hope for economic recovery.”

The bespoke terminal will import and export containers and trailers with vital supplies for the UK, including food, drink and medicines to and from continental Europe on P&O’s busy Tilbury-Zeebrugge freight route. A year in construction, the first ship to use the fully operational terminal was P&O’s chartered freight ferry the Norstream after her recent trials to test the port's systems. Maritime Minister, Kelly Tolhurst commented:

“Barely a year since getting the green light from my Department, the opening of the Tilbury2 unaccompanied ferry terminal really is a landmark moment for this major infrastructure project. It is a great testimony to all those who worked on the build that it has been finished and opened, despite the current challenges facing the maritime sector. The new terminal will provide more capacity and jobs at a vital time, when our world-leading ports will be at the forefront of the UK’s economic recovery.”

The new RoRo terminal is part of a £250 million investment by owner, Forth Ports, which is creating a brand-new port, Tilbury2. The terminal is trusted trader Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) accredited and embraces the latest booking and border technology, such as number plate recognition, which ensures that the terminal is Brexit-ready to continue the smooth passage of goods, regardless of the eventual EU-UK settlement

Tilbury2 is a new port at the former Tilbury Power Station on the north bank of the River Thames on the outskirts of London. When fully operational later this year, Tilbury2 will be the UK’s largest unaccompanied freight ferry port, the country’s biggest construction processing hub and will see the creation of a new significantly larger rail head which can accommodate the longest freight trains of 775 metres.

Meanwhile in Sweden, Stockholm Norvik Port, Ports of Stockholm’s new freight port is open and the first container ship arrived at the port on Wednesday 27th May, 2020. The Unifeeder box vessel SCA Tunadal claims the port’s maiden container ship call, meaning a well-planned port construction project has now crossed the finishing line. Johan Wallén, Marketing and Sales Manager at Ports of Stockholm, observed:

“It is a fantastic feeling to be able at last to open Stockholm Norvik Port and to know that we can now assure the sustainable transport of goods to and from the greater Stockholm region for many, many years to come.”

The new port has opened in uncertain times and the current situation highlights the importance of always having a functional supply of goods and the necessity of maintaining global and national transport links. The container terminal is now open, both for vessel calls and for shore-based business operations at the port. The container terminal is run by Hutchison Ports whose CEO, Lawrence Yam said the company is looking forward to being able to offer customers the best possible service, at a newly built port that provides an efficient port infrastructure and state-of-the-art equipment.

As well as half of Sweden’s consumption happening in the Stockholm region, nine goods in ten arrive in Sweden by sea. The opening of Stockholm Norvik Port increases the opportunities to transport goods by sea as close to their final destination as possible. The port provides modern and efficient transport solutions through its proximity to the major shipping fairways, a natural depth of 16.5 metres, and good land infrastructure connections, including a newly built railway line.

Photo: Main image: The Norstream discharges at Tilbury2 for the first time and (inset) the SCA Tunadal docks at Norvik Port.