European Gateway Services
Europe’s container terminals are a vital element in global trade, acting as a gateway for Europe’s exports and imports and serving the EU internal market by providing links between Member States. Containers need to be efficiently discharged from deep-sea vessels, but equally efficiently transported from the deep-sea terminal to the end customer.
Here lies the benefit of good hinterland connections. The port of Rotterdam is the largest container port in Europe and Hutchison operates three terminals there, making it the largest container terminal operator in the port. Hutchison’s European Gateway Services link Europe Container Terminal (ECT) in Rotterdam to inland terminals by barge and rail. With 7 inland terminals currently connected to ECT (see map), these connections deliver the container closer to the customer, reducing freight journeys by road. Regularly scheduled barge and train services to the inland terminals make the connections a viable alternative to road transport; for example, there are 6 rail services each week from Rotterdam to Duisberg and 5 barge services. The result is reduced road congestion around Rotterdam, an environmentally efficient mode of transport and reliable and convenient deliveries to customers.
Investing and developing the extended gateway of inland terminals to connect the deepsea terminal with its hinterland by rail or inland waterway is increasingly important, both to provide an efficient and reliable service for customers and to improve the sustainability of company operations. µ
The inland terminals function as an extension of the ECT terminal in Rotterdam. As soon as the container is discharged from the deep-sea vessel, it is moved by barge or rail to the inland terminal chosen by the customer.
Customs formalities are completed at the inland terminal, rather than at the ECT deep-sea terminal as would normally be the case.
There are also environmental benefits: Transporting one container by barge from Rotterdam to Willebroek saves 153 kg of CO2 compared to trucking. This results in an annual savings of 7,956 kg of CO2, which is equivalent to driving around the world once in a passenger car. Currently around 40% of Rotterdam’s landside container transport is by inland waterway.
Terminal operators invest in modern terminals that are increasingly efficient at loading and discharging containers. However, they then face barriers and bottlenecks in moving those containers to and from customers in the hinterland. The Commission and the Member States should focus in the coming years on improving hinterland connections. This can be achieved by making better use of existing infrastructure, through a combination of improved administrative procedures and greater use of ICTs as well as with investments targeted at removing bottlenecks and increasing the efficiency of Germany inter-modal connections.