The Turkish logistics company Ekol Logistics and the Belgian groupage company Transuniverse Forwarding are going to develop a multimodal site of 40 hectares at the Kluizendok in North Sea Port (Ghent). The project involves 10 hectares for a cross-docking centre, 20 hectares for a rail terminal and 10 hectares for a Ro-Ro terminal.
Transuniverse Forwarding, Ekol Logistics and North Sea Port have signed letter of intent for the development of a new intermodal platform that will act as a hub between the Mediterranean region, East Europe and north-western Europe. The new site will also significantly increase the capacity of the groupage company.
Ekol Logistics and Transuniverse Forwarding Group have jointly taken an option on a 20 ha site to build and operate a rail terminal. This infrastructure will be a completely new development. “This common initiative will be used for both groups’ own intermodal traffics, but the terminal will also be open to other companies,” says Ahmet Musul, chairman of Ekol Logistics.
The Turkish logistics service provider already operates a number of train connections, including between Italy (Trieste) and Cologne. “We want to expand these traffics to other destinations in Europe. North Sea Port will become a hub for intermodal rail services between Spain, Greece and the Maghreb countries on the one hand, and the United Kingdom and later Scandinavia on the other,” explains Ahmet Musul.
Transuniverse Forwarding operates a so-called cross-docking centre in Wondelgem (Ghent) for its groupage transport from and to all of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. There, consignments are brought together and distributed among trucks or intermodal containers to take them to the various destinations. These traffic flows have been growing strongly for several years, so that the existing installations – currently 8,000 m² in size – have become absolutely insufficient.
“We have taken an option on a 10 ha site to build a new 20,000 m² cross-dock centre. According to the preliminary plans, the building will be over 300 m long and 60 m wide and will have 140 loading docks. Because it is so large, the transhipment operations will be partly automated or robotised,” says Frank Adins, chairman of Transuniverse Forwarding Group. According to the current plans, the new cross-docking building will be operational by the end of 2021.
Because the containers and trailers destined for the United Kingdom will be transported from Ghent by ship, Ekol Logistics and Transuniverse will also build a Ro-Ro (roll on – roll off) terminal at the head of the Kluizendok.
“The operation of this terminal will be the responsibility of a third party. Negotiations on this are already underway,” says Frank Adins. According to him, the growth opportunities for the shortsea traffic between Ghent and the UK are great. “The Brexit is expected to cause major congestion in the Channel ports. This creates opportunities to organise transport by ship from Ghent to more northerly UK ports, in combination with rail connections to and from the European hinterland”.
These developments fit in with the objectives of North Sea Port. The port’s ambition is to further develop the Kluizendok as a multimodal (logistics) hub. “Moreover, North Sea Port encourages companies to make increasing use of sustainable modes of transport, such as transport by rail or water. We expect that this development will be an important contribution to this strategy,” says Daan Schalck, CEO of North Sea Port.
Today Transuniverse handles more than 100 trucks and intermodal containers per week in Wondelgem. Thanks to the new installations at the Kluizendok, the company expects to be able to double these traffics within five years. Via the rail terminal in North Sea Port, Ekol will run 20 trains a week, connecting this new hub with the European hinterland. The terminal will handle some 2mn tonnes of goods per year.
The entire project will create several hundred direct and indirect jobs. Ekol and Transuniverse have the ambition to continuously expand their logistics services on their new premises. With the available land in the port area, North Sea Port still has sufficient opportunities for expansion of other port related logistics activities.