Right on Tyne: Improving infrastructure and diversifying business operations at the Port of Tyne

According to the World Maritime University, the environment in which ports operate has completely changed from yesteryear. Internally, ports are expected to be constantly improving efficiency while simultaneously becoming financially self-reliant. Externally, the market situation is getting tougher and more competitive.

The Port of Tyne has long understood that the services it can offer customers stretch far beyond simply loading and unloading ships and, indeed, that its customers can be found at either end – or at any stage in between – of the supply chain. Today, with their dark blue trucks regularly seen throughout Britain and the successful initiative last year to raise the profile of the high standard of warehousing located within Tyne Dock, the Port of Tyne is unique among UK ports in handling the whole of the logistics chain in-house.

Martin Jordan, the port’s Divisional Director, Port Operations, says “The development of Riverside Quay has given the port the ability to accommodate panamax class vessels which means, essentially, we can attract more business into the Tyne and the region. “The strategic decision to invest in rail infrastructure and build strong relationships with Network Rail and the freight operating companies has enabled a massive increase in cargo handled as well as saving millions of road miles.”

On track: rail takes centre stage

Rail has long been at the heart of the Port of Tyne’s operations but until the mid 1990s, our rail activity was focused entirely on he coal export operations at Tyne Dock.
How things have changed. Reinvented, extended and upgraded in recent years, our rail connections today are carrying rapidly growing volumes of import coal for the power generators, as well as increasing numbers of containers and cars.  “Rail is now at the strategic centre of our operations, and an essential ingredient in our plans for future development. We have made major investments in our rail facilities, and are reaping the rewards,” says Port of Tyne Commercial Manager Matthew Hunt.

The port is breaking records, too; in February 2008, a record 49 trains were despatched from the port in one week, including 44 coal trains and five car trains. In one 24-hour period in December 2007, a record 13 coal trains were loaded at the port for delivery to power station customers in the Aire and Trent valleys. More than two million tonnes of coal imports were despatched by train last year, and the total will be even higher in 2008. “This unprecedented level of growth is testimony to the
success of partnership working involving stakeholders in the supply chain for imported coal and specifically Network Rail and the rail freight operating companies EWS, Freightliner and GBRailfreight,” says Matthew.

Throughout the supply chain, there is increasing awareness of and demand for, ‘green’ and sustainable transport solutions. The Port of Tyne is able to take a proactive approach and work with customers to meet their needs, thanks to a combination of quayside flexibility and dockside train-loading capabilities. The port has facilities to load two coal trains at the same time. The distance from the port’s boundaries to the main line is just 1.5 miles, and at present most trains travel via the Tyne Bridge Line through Newcastle to join the East Coast Main Line.

There is also an alternative route via the coast to the ECML; Network Rail is committed to a programme of signalling and other upgrade work on this line, known as the Boldon East Curve, and this work will give the port a huge leap in rail capacity.Further ahead, we have been closely involved in the development of the regional spatial strategy, which provides a planning framework for the region for the next ten years. The provision of even better rail connections is a key point within this strategy for the future.

Port Profile
Edition: Edition 39

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