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Post-Covid lockdown surge results in much Felixstowe congestion

BRITAIN's main container port of Felixstowe suffered trade flow disruption as traffic backed up at the quayside with truckers struggling to cope and railways being asked to take on the extra load, reports the Netherlands-based Railfreight journal

06 October 2020 - 19:00

BRITAIN's main container port of Felixstowe suffered trade flow disruption as traffic backed up at the quayside with truckers struggling to cope and railways being asked to take on the extra load, reports the Netherlands-based Railfreight journal.

Hong Kong global port operator Hutchison Ports said high demand for road and rail capacity as the volume of imports surged post-lockdown.



Meanwhile, rail operators were scratching their heads as they sought to clear away a mountain of containers.



Because of the Covid crisis, ships are moving out of sequence, and established trade routes are experiencing unprecedented peaks and troughs, said the Railfreight report.



This means ports are facing tidal waves of cargo, followed by stacks of empty containers, all in the wrong place at the wrong time.



In North America, west coast ports like the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports have seen double-stack container trains lying 'off-shore' at inland holding locations while the port clears away boxes bound elsewhere.



Felixstowe has told customers: 'We handled 16,887 TEU at our rail terminals and are working with all operators to increase the volume of containers moved inland during the coming days.'



Spare rail capacity is at a premium. Recent infrastructure enhancements locally have been welcomed. UK operators are being asked by the port to work with them on maximising individual train loads.



Truckers criticised the port operator for understaffing during the pandemic. That is something denied by Hutchison.



'Labour availability at the port is good', they say, claiming that recruitment in September. 'We were pleased to welcome the first intake of new operational staff since lockdown measures eased,' they said. 'In total we are recruiting over 100 additional equipment drivers.'



Felixstowe still handles about three times as much cargo by road. The port says it handled around 53,000 TEU in the last week of September, and made additional vehicle booking system slots available for drivers.


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