I’ve been working in maritime and manufacturing sectors for more than 30 years and the changes I’ve seen during that time have been incredible. Infrastructure, technology and working practices have been transformed the supply chain beyond recognition.
Yet, there’s one area that’s crucial to our industry that hasn’t kept pace with development elsewhere and that’s the railway network.
In recent years we’ve been at pains to highlight that we are more than just a network of ports. Our customers today need much more than just a safe place to load and unload goods. They want more value-added services, greater efficiency through automation, transparent information sharing and much more.
Some of these demands are within our gift and we have invested heavily to provide the facilities and services the supply chain requires to move cargo efficiently and reliably.
However, they also require excellent multimodal onward connectivity. We have invested in additional capacity to move goods along the Manchester Ship Canal, providing an all-water route from our Liverpool2 ocean gateway to the heart of the UK marketplace. Unfortunately, we don’t have quite the same direct influence over the road and rail network.
Now, there have been improvements over the years. There are 10 motorways within easy reach of Liverpool and Manchester, and we have reasonable rail connectivity north and south. But the east-west rail connections are sadly lacking and these must be a priority for government funding to bring cross-country routes up to modern day standards from their Victorian heritage.
This matters because our customers need options. As our business continues to grow it’s clear that there’s an appetite for using Liverpool as a hub for long-distance shipments within the UK, not just to our immediate hinterland. It is the UK’s natural choice for deep-sea cargo movements, especially as we look west across the Atlantic in planning a post-Brexit future.
Because of this, we are confidently launching our new rail service to provide a more streamlined offering for shippers, despite our reservations about east-west rail.
What we want to see though is the government matching the private sector’s ambition by investing in future capacity and capabilities, so that all supply chain businesses – and those who rely on them – are able to maximise their economic output for years to come.
For more information on our new container rail service click HERE.
Source: Peel Ports, Gary Hodgson, Strategic Projects Director, 13 September 2017