Today, the Port of Rotterdam Authority will be publishing a request for tenders among sector parties for the provision of a new transport service that enables container terminal operators at Maasvlakte to exchange containers via a dedicated road. This dedicated road, commonly known as the Container Exchange Route (CER), was specially constructed for this purpose. The European tender announcement concerns both the supply of hybrid transport vehicles and the actual transport of the containers (Transport As A Service). In this hybrid format, the vehicle can run both completely autonomously and operated by a human driver.
The Port of Rotterdam Authority decided on this solution in view of the contribution hybrid autonomous transport can make to optimising efficiency of container exchanges between terminals, while simultaneously offering operators freedom of choice when it comes to timing on how containers are transported on their terminal. The Port of Rotterdam Authority intends to appoint its subsidiary PortShuttle as operator of the CER. In effect, this means that PortShuttle will be responsible for planning transport runs, administration and invoicing.
Hybrid setup for CER transport
The transport vehicles will operate completely autonomously between the different connected terminals on Maasvlakte. From the moment a vehicle leaves the CER proper and enters the terminal site, it can either continue its route steered by a human driver or on an autonomous basis. This is up to the individual operators, and may differ from company to company – depending among other things on how the terminal grounds and facilities are laid out.
Following the publication of the request for tenders on the TenderNed website, sector parties are invited to contact the Port of Rotterdam Authority to indicate their interest and submit their tender for review. Provided one or more of the submitted proposals offer attractive terms, the Port Authority intends to select a winning bid from these tenders – with this selection being either provisional or final – in the first quarter of 2021.
According to planning, construction on the CER will be rounded off in the first quarter of 2021. After a period of testing, the commercial operationalisation of the new road can start at the end of the fourth quarter of 2021.
Why did the port of Rotterdam decide to realise the CER?
With a recorded throughput of over 14.8 million TEU in 2019. Rotterdam ranks as Europe’s largest container port. In order to handle such massive volumes swiftly and efficiently, the Port of Rotterdam Authority has commissioned the realisation of a dedicated road connection for the terminals at Maasvlakte. The Container Exchange Route (CER) is an internal 17-km track
that can be used for the efficient transport of containers between different locations. The CER enables rail operators, inland shipping companies and feeder operators to optimise their terminal calls.
Once the CER has been taken into operation on a commercial basis – most likely in the fourth quarter of 2021 – the participating container terminals, empty depots, the National Inspectorate Terminal, distribution centres and other users will be able to use the vehicles that run along this route to exchange containers with other parties. This exchange will be both swifter and less expensive than existing arrangements and will significantly reduce congestion in the areas around the terminals.
Moreover, the CER can help to simplify administrative procedures – when it comes to customs paperwork, for example. This will improve the overall provision of container-related services in ‘container hub’ Rotterdam. The result? Greater flexibility, improved connectivity, reduced congestion risks, shorter port stays and lower costs.
In short: the Container Exchange Route can be expected to further improve the port of Rotterdam’s accessibility and competitive position. A smoothly functioning CER, combined with a more competitive transport rate, will raise efficiency in container handling, which in turn will result in higher throughput volumes for the port of Rotterdam – and more employment at the terminals.