Eurogate and HHLA deal gets go-ahead.
THE German cartel office has given the go-ahead to terminal operators Eurogate and HHLA for their hinterland traffic joint venture. The co-operation agreement"s working title is ?inland port network?.
?The present hinterland terminal landscape is not adequate,? said Sebastian Jürgens, member of the management board of HHLA.
The companies plan the construction of new terminals as well as buying minority shares in established terminals. ?We will focus on economic hotspots such as the Ruhr area,? said Mr Jürgens.
However, he would not give details about exact locations, as negotiations with potential partners have not started yet. To date, the Ruhr region is serviced to a great extent by the inland port of Duisburg, which has connections to Rotterdam and Antwerpen.
Mr Jürgens added that despite the current slowdown in cargo volumes this was the right time to start such an initiative. ?We believe that volumes will go up again and that it is important to invest in terminals now,? he said.
Before the collapse in global container volumes, Europe"s major container deepsea ports were struggling to keep pace with throughputs that were averaging double digit annual growth.
The European Commission, as well as the major box port operators, see rail and water connected hinterland terminals as an efficient and enviromentally friendly way to avoid congestion within the port and on the roads.
HHLA and Eurogate have not set any firm timetable for the project, Mr Jürgens said. ?The schedule is very different depending on whether we invest in an existing terminal or whether we build a new one,? he said. ?This is a long-term project and that is why it makes sense to start during the crisis.?
He did not give a figure for the planned investment volume.
In 2008, Eurogate started its extended gate programme, which was later put on ice. The idea envisaged by Eurogate then is similar to that outlined now with HHLA.
Eurogate wanted to buy minority shares in the terminals, flowing boxes to and from Bremerhaven and Hamburg, thus cutting truck congestion, avoiding space constraints at the deepsea box ports and benefiting the environment.
However, this programme will not be continued. ?It will be transferred into the joint venture so far as this is viable,? said Mr Jürgens.
?The plan is to move the seaport to the customer,? Mr Jürgens said. Part of the venture is to create depot capacities in the hinterland. Cargo will be bundled in the hinterland and then delivered via train or inland ship to the seaport so that the storage time in the seaport could be shortened.w