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Samskip fine tunes multimodal network for post-Brexit hard choices 14 June 2019

Expects UK exporters and importers to switch from trailers towards containerisation

Pan-European multimodal service provider Samskip says experience gained up to March 31, 2019 find it fully prepared for a North Sea container traffic surge, as attitudes harden in the run up to October’s revised Brexit deadline. Europe’s largest multimodal transport group by freight volume expects UK exporters and importers to start switching away from trailers and towards containerisation very soon, repeating a trend established in the run-up to the original deadline for Brexit.

In the run up to the original Brexit date, container transport proved reliable and efficient. Samskip demonstrated that it could handle far more freight without the risk of terminal gate tailbacks, customs red tape, driver shortages or industrial action. However, concerns over supply chain security are fast re-emerging.

Stockpiling contributed to a traffic surge earlier in the year that confirmed robustness in new Hull-Ghent and Hull-Amsterdam links established by Samskip at the end of 2018. The services add to existing high-frequency connections between Rotterdam, Tilbury, Hull and Grangemouth.

These additions brought more than simply shortsea capacity. Ghent and Amsterdam have brought multimodal head to head with trailers in new regional markets and opened longer distance routes across Europe.

Samskip services to Rotterdam are supported by 70 trains a week to destinations throughout the EU and beyond, as well as by regular barge connections but Ghent opens up northern French and Belgian markets traditionally feeding ferries into Zeebrugge. The added dimension of low emissions, congestion-free barge connections has also proved an attraction for the Belgian port. Meanwhile, Amsterdam has brought new flexibility and cost-efficiency, with rail services running into the port’s TMA Logistics shortsea terminal itself, and space available to launch cross-docking services for customs-friendly containerisation.

The period after March has allowed Samskip to refine post-Brexit arrangements and lay down plans for new rail links eastward from Dutch ports to Berlin and Poland, adding to a previous focus on Duisburg and Mannheim. It has been able to demonstrate performance levels to UK importers and exporters where mutlimodal options have been added and fully deploy the people, resources and IT that will enable seamless customs clearance. It is also confident that cross-docking services in Amsterdam will persuade more shippers of conventional wagon loads from Germany, Austria, Poland and Italy to containerise.