Traditional Road Haulage Groups Moving Swiftly Into Multimodal Logistics

UK – Many companies which originally had a strong foothold in the UK transport market as traditional break bulk cargo and container road haulage operations have diversified over the last few years into the rail sector. The writing has been on the wall for some time as regards box carriage by road, with all the major ports developing their own rail cargo service links. Rail carriage is perceived as having has a great attraction from an environmental point of view but obviously has the drawback of requiring a rail head closer to the final collection or destination point in order to reap any benefit.

Moving thousands of tonnes of bulk goods such as coal ore metal ores obviously justify the huge investment needed to build terminals within the relevant plant, but container traffic requires multimodal facilities to facilitate the exchange between rail and road. One of the aforementioned companies is Maritime Transport, formed in 2001 after John Williams took over Maritime Haulage. Thus began a cyclical business with funds from the used truck sales prompting a serious move into domestic container haulage just a decade ago, rapidly followed by the purchase of DHL Container Logistics.

With the first move into rail a year or so later this year saw the signing of a 25 year lease to operate the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange at the SEGRO Logistics Park East Midlands Gateway (EMG). Now the company says it has made rapid progress on the construction of its Castle Donington rail terminal there, due to begin operating officially at the start of 2020. Now rail-connected, Maritime’s largest terminal to date has already seen over 50,000 cubic tonnes of concrete poured ready for its container handling operations to commence.

In addition to ongoing works, the 17-acre interchange, which will be capable of handling up to sixteen 775 metre-long freight trains daily, has recently taken delivery of three new Sany reach stackers, and two Sany empty container handlers, to meet the strong customer demand expected. Maritime says the all-new container handling equipment will ensure minimal disruption to services, and fast turnaround times. The new equipment was supplied by Cooper Specialised Handling, who seem to be busy having featured in yet another contract tale last week.

All five Sany machines come as part of series of asset acquisitions Maritime has made across its network in recent months, including a new depot in Avonmouth, hundreds of new vehicles and trailers, and two Konecranes straddle carriers at its rail terminal in Tamworth. Commenting on the new plant equipment, Operations Director, John Bailey, said: “We believe the numerous benefits EMG has to offer will quickly be realised, and so having these machines ready to go to work will be crucial in enabling us to meet all customer requirements.

Operating this terminal is a major milestone, and we look forward to offering customers even more advanced rail solutions.” Planning permission was granted earlier this year for a three-storey, 20,000 square foot office at EMG that will act as a headquarters for Maritime’s rail subdivision, Maritime Intermodal, which launched in April. The new facility will act as a hub for customer appointments, training workshops, and day-to-day operations, with state-of-the-art facilities for staff to utilise.

In addition to the office itself, planning permission was also granted for a vehicle maintenance unit, enabling Maritime to carry out container repairs and conversions as well as trailer servicing and minor vehicle repairs to its fleet. Having these facilities on-site will inevitably improve the business’s productivity and customer-offering. Refuelling and reefer points will also be installed on the terminal.

Capable of storing up to 5,000 TEU, EMG is already occupied with tenants such as Amazon, Shop Direct, K&N, and Nestle.

Eventually, the area will house up to 7,000,000 square feet of warehousing and will serve the major conurbations of Derby, Leicester, Nottingham, Castle Donington, and Kegworth.

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