Increasing the accessibility of the Flemish seaports and relieving the pressure on the road network, that is the objective of the Inland Shipping Impulse Programme, a collaboration between the Department of Mobility and Public Works (MOW), Port of Antwerp-Bruges, North Sea Port and Lantis. . In the context of that programme, the Flemish Government, under the impulse of Flemish minister Lydia Peeters, recently approved five projects. These projects should improve the intermodal offer to and from the Flemish ports via new corridor shuttles.

Stimulate inland shipping

With the Impulse Programme, the Flemish government (Department MOW and Lantis), Port of Antwerp-Bruges and North Sea Port provide temporary support to the inland shipping sector. In concrete terms, at the beginning of this year, inland terminals, barge operators and other intermodal parties were encouraged through a market consultation to develop collaborative projects ('corridor shuttles' and 'terminal hub shuttles') on the various shipping routes to and from the Port of Antwerp-Bruges. . 

The intention is to make the handling of inland container shipping at the maritime quays more reliable and to reduce waiting times in the port. Cooperation between inland terminals in the hinterland is an important precondition for this. A more attractive inland shipping offer contributes to a modal shift from road transport to inland shipping. Lantis, the developer of the Oosterweel Works, is fully committed to this measure, which is part of the 'Less Hinder campaign' to reduce traffic jams on the Antwerp Ring.

“Over the next four years, this program will release more than 2,5 million euros annually to further stimulate the modal shift from road transport to inland shipping, increase the supply and improve the reliability of inland container shipping. This cooperation should lead to a better functioning of the integrated logistics chain to and from the Flemish seaports. We give a boost to transport between our Flemish seaports and inland terminals and create efficiency gains for companies. By 2030, the ambition is to increase the share of container inland shipping to and from the port of Antwerp to 42%”.

Selected consortia of new corridor shuttles

Nine project consortia applied. In the end, five project proposals for new corridor shuttles were selected. For the first year, the project partners have made a maximum of €2.671.959,95 in subsidies available. The participating terminals will establish regular inland shipping services between maritime terminals and inland terminals located along the same corridor. In each collaboration, containers are bundled on one 'corridor vessel', a combination of a pusher barge and a pusher barge, on the various shipping routes to and from Port of Antwerp-Bruges.

“This initiative is fully in line with our goal to improve the reliability and efficiency of inland container shipping in our port. By collaborating on important shipping routes, we are bundling volumes and achieving smoother handling at the container terminals. This increases the attractiveness of inland shipping for container transport”.

“North Sea Port is going for more sustainable and efficient transport. Already 58% of the maritime flows to and from the hinterland in North Sea Port go via inland shipping. Our ambition to further increase the transport of containers by inland shipping and to realize more regular inland shipping connections through the bundling of goods flows and more collaborations fits in well with this Inland Shipping Impulse Programme”.

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