Peel Ports Commercial Director: UK-Europe freight reverting to pre-1992 model

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The Commercial Director of Peel Ports claims that cargo owners and carriers have started to return to the pre-1992 freight model, when under 50% of UK-Europe trade went through the Dover Strait.

According to Peel Ports Commercial Director Stephen Carr, the fear of congestion at ports serving the Dover Strait come 2021, combined with Covid-19 and a shortage of truck drivers, has resulted in cargo owners and carriers opting to switch transport modes and use different ports and shipping methods in a bid to preserve supply chains.

When asked if Brexit would spark a move towards containerised freight, Stephen Carr said it was „already happening”:

It’s already happening. COVID’s had an impact on the availability of haulage and hauliers on long-distance routes, particularly on the cargo that comes out of Iberia into the UK – not just to our (Peel Ports’) ports on the UK west coast, but equally on the east coast as well – and this has given rise to  a number of new services, which are longer-distance sea routes and shorter-distance road routes.

Carr added that although he expects to see more unaccompanied loads in the future, there are some businesses that require the speed offered by accompanied haulage. On the other hand, those that value reliability will be far more likely to choose longer distance sea routes.

The Peel Ports Commercial Director also warned about a lack of customs staff as well as the possibility of European Drivers being subject to a cabotage ban. If the latter turns out to be true, Carr believes driver shortages will be a problem:

If cabotage is not allowed, because there isn’t a deal to facilitate it, there will be ripples way beyond just the provision of transport between EU countries and the UK – because the driver pool will just get smaller and smaller.

Photo: Liverpool container port / Photo credit: David Dixon Geograph UK