June 25 - The first General Assembly of the port of Antwerp has produced a number of key initiatives to support the port's position as one of Europe's mainports as the global economy recovers.
These include a port community system (PCS) that will combine the various IT services used by the port, improved hinterland connections and new barge projects.
There will also be various marketing initiatives aimed at making full use of the new possibilities offered by the recent deepening of the Scheldt.
The assembly also heard an interim report on the 'total plan' for a more competitive port.
Antwerp Port Authority CEO Eddy Bruyninckx and Alfaport Antwerp chairman Roger Roels launched this initiative at the end of 2009. Nearly 200 port specialists drawn from the public and private sectors have been working on the project since February.
The plan is much more than a response to last year's recession, it will arm the port for the coming competitive recovery, says the port.
"The tide has turned in a positive direction for us. Recent market research has shown that the great majority of our customers see Antwerp as the best choice," says Bruyninckx.
Among the highlights revealed to the assembly: the dredging of the Western Scheldt is on schedule and will be fully completed by the end of the year; the PCS portal combines the various services used by the port community; five new rail connections to Paris, Vienna, Ludwigshaven, Verona and Sopron and three upgraded routes to Lyons, Novarra and Duisburg will help to reinforce Antwerp's position. For barge transport there is the setting up of the BICOS project (joint barge planning system), the co-ordination of sailing schedules among barge operators, the premium barge service and the roll-out of BTS 2.0.