Geest North Sea Line, together with its Spanish partner Odiel Bilbao SA, announced more details relating to their new shortsea joint venture, first made public in mid November. The two companies have entered into a vessel sharing agreement with feeder specialist X-Press Container Line to provide twice-weekly sailings between Bilbao, London (Tilbury) and Rotterdam, commencing January 2, 2004.
Sailings will be offered from Bilbao every Wednesday and Friday. The mid-week sailing arrives Tilbury on Saturday allowing UK deliveries on Monday while the Friday sailing arrives Monday evening to allow Tuesday deliveries. Departures are every Sunday and Tuesday. Arrivals in Rotterdam are on Sundays and Tuesdays while departures from Rotterdam to Bilbao will be on Saturday and Tuesday, arriving Wednesday and Friday.
According to Geest's Commercial Director
, Gerard de Groot, these timings are particularly competitive given that most commercial vehicles are banned from running through France over the weekend:
"We have set this schedule to meet the needs of Spanish companies exporting their goods to the UK, the Benelux and Germany. We will be using our 45 ft. palletwide containers which offer comparable capacity to 13.6 m road trailers
and we believe we can offer a service that will be very competitive with those offered by road hauliers.
For X-Press Container Line, part of the Singaporean Sea Consortium Group, this link with Geest North Sea Line is groundbreaking. The Group, which operates over 30 ships on feeder and regional services in Asia, has only recently entered the European market and initially focused on serving the needs of deepsea carriers.