A development partnership including the Port of Marseilles Authority (PMA) has outlined plans for further expansion of inland waterways traffic following 60% growth in five years.
The latest objectives, focusing on container and dry bulk trades for the period 2008-2012, maintain a co-operation agreement signed in 2002 by the port, waterways authority Voies Navigables de France and the Compagnie Nationale du Rhone (CNR) covering 550km of waterways in the Rhone-Saone corridor.
In the first five years of the initiative, total cargo volumes for containers, oil products and dry/liquid bulks rose from 1.8 to 2.7million tonnes, giving the waterways a 5.34% share of hinterland traffic compared with 3.65% in 2002. Container throughput trebled to 59,000 teu, representing 8.3% of box traffic handled last year at the deepsea Fos terminal.
Growth under the so-called ‘progress contract’ has been supported by wide-ranging enhancement of facilities and operations at Fos and the inland ports, including the opening of a second container terminal (T2) at CNR’s Port Lyon Edouard Herriot in January 2007 and simplified customs procedures saving 24-48 hours for Fos-Lyons imports.
New impetus is expected from measures agreed last year by the PMA. In the container sector, these include incentive tariffs, the introduction of two gantry cranes adapted for barge handling and the construction of a canal link between Fos and the waterways system. In addition, cereals traffic was potentially tripled by a €22 million public-private investment.
Dry bulk equipment and infrastructure will also feature in strategy for the next five years, together with action to lift the waterways share of container traffic to 10% as the Fos 2XL, 3XL and 4XL terminals come on stream. Priorities include simplified export customs procedures, improved EDI links with Lyon Terminal, the development of added value services at inland ports and enhanced utilisation of space at T2 to provide access for over-size containers.
The new plans will be promoted at a special conference in in June and in consultation with the industrial and logistics sectors.