Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  28 Oct 2010

SHIPPING: New Inner-City Freight Rail Service


Recent Western Cape Business News

CAPE-based exporters of perishable and general cargo have welcomed the launch of an innovative rail service that is not only helping to reduce inner city traffic and congestion at the Cape Town Container Terminals, but has improved truck turnaround times while providing a solution to the perennial problem of container weight misdeclaration.

Entrepreneur Andre Visser (30), who founded United Logistics at the beginning of April this year, is providing these solutions by offering ‘last leg’ rail transportation services between the Belcon Rail Depot in Bellville and Cape Town’s Ben Schoeman and Combi Terminals. “Rather than transporting containers all the way to Cape Town where trucks can spend hours waiting to gain access to the port, shippers have the option of ‘gating in’ their full export containers at Belcon where they are loaded onto a dedicated rail shuttle service which then takes the containers directly to the Cape Town port.”

By using rail instead of road for the ‘last leg’ journey to the port, shippers are not only helping to cut down on inner city traffic and terminal congestion, but they’re also able to optimise loads and truck turnaround times – and reduce their carbon footprint while doing so.”

Visser’s United Logistics’ service makes it possible for transporters to drop off full containers and pick up empties at the same location, thereby reducing potential port and depot waiting times (usually between four and six hours) down to a mere 30 minutes.

These time-saving advantages not only benefit the shipper, but the entire supply chain. Optimal planning of loads is possible because loads can be staggered throughout the day and multiple loads - using a single truck – can be achieved because of shorter truck turnaround times.”

Visser says the frequency of the service is currently dictated by demand – and that Cape-based reefer exporters were the first to take advantages of the new rail option.

Reefers are plugged in and monitored until the shuttle is ready to be loaded for the 45 minute trip straight into vessel stack, thereby substantially reducing total ‘off plug’ time compared to end-to-end road transportation.”

A further advantage is that all containers are weighed on entry. This allows the shipper to provide the shipping line with accurate, real-time cargo weights as opposed to the booked (anticipated) weight. Not only does this provide transparency throughout the entire supply chain, but it allows the shipping line to optimise vessel stowage and it reduces the safety and other risks associated with misdeclared container weights.”

The first consignment of containers was moved by rail from Belcon in May.

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