Business, Freight News, Logistics, Road, Sea

Calais port plans to break into box market

[ October 3, 2011   //   ]

The port of Calais is about to start work on a plan to double the size of the existing harbour and to diversify into new trades including containers and trade cars. The port, owned by the local authority – Nord Pas de Calais – is putting the finishing touches to a €400m project to build a new outer wall and dredge a new harbour basin to a depth of 6 metres, although the harbour entrance will be deredged to 13m.

The expansion plan envisages that the first berths will be operational in 2015, though a port spokesman said it was possible that the first berths would not be operational until slightly after that date – perhaps 2017. A port of Calais spokesman said that the public enquiry should be completed by 2012 and, following a tender process, construction should start in 2014 with completion expected around 2017.

The port could also break into the short-sea container market for the first time – part of the new terminal area could be developed to handle boxes rather than ro ro, if market conditions dictate, added a port of Calais spokesman. Total container capacity could be around 2 million boxes a year. With a depth of around 6 metres, Calais’s niche would clearly be the short-sea not the deepsea market – although the nearby port of Dunkirk could cater for the latter with its plans to develop a deepwater terminal.

The plans for Calais also include a road viaduct linking the new area to the existing one, rail sidings and a new entrance further away from the built-up area than the existing one. Initially this would be used for freight only, though tourist car traffic might be moved there at a later stage.

A third strand of Calais’s expansion strategy would be trade cars. This has already started to develop on a limited scale – Peugeot-Citroen cars are railed into a new terminal in the port area where they are transferred onto Suardiaz car carrying vessels for transfer to Sheerness and Kilingholm – apparently, high storage costs in the UK make this a more viable option than railing or shipping direct to the UK as cars can be stored cheaply in Calais until called forward.