Port of Antwerp-Bruges can help shippers ‘get your boxes off the roads’

Source: The Loadstar
Date: 20th June 2024

Increasing barge and rail activity has become a central pillar of the growth trajectory at the port of Antwerp-Bruges, following the 2022 merger of the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge.

For the Belgian gateway, barge and rail flows are no novelty – less than 50% of its volumes are transported by road – but amid the global push to reduce emissions in supply chains, the port’s management team believes further improvements can be made.

Speaking to The Loadstar on the sidelines in a Multimodal event in Birmingham, the port’s representative for the UK & Ireland said: “The majority of cargo is transported by barge and rail, but we want to increase volumes using sustainable modes of transport.”

“Our team has been working hard to develop several markets, with a particular emphasis on Polish and other Central European volumes, looking to encourage shippers there to migrate from trucks.”

It is recognized that the ease of using haulage will make the transition to barge and rail challenging for some, but if the industry is serious about cutting emissions, it must “get creative”.

Develop infrastructure that supports a more multimodal approach; for instance, with more than 1000km of rail track on the port platforms –  ‘trailer train’ model.”

This sees trucks used for legs of the journey where rail tracks do not exist, or where trucking becomes more efficient. After that, the haulier detaches the trailer from the truck and loads it onto a train for the remainder of the journey. Overall, it significantly reduces road miles.

Given that hauliers have begun chartering their trains to do this, there is confidence that there is a consistency of volumes to make it a viable operating model.

So, countries such as Poland and other potential markets believe this could work for, Hungary and Turkey. This is where the vast connectivity of ports in Antwerp and Zeebrugge to the hinterland offers significant advantages to shippers.

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