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Geest North Sea Line media release

Geest North Sea Line and X-Press Container Line
enter into a vessel sharing agreement for Iberia

Geest North Sea Line, together with its Spanish partner Odiel Bilbao SA, has announced further 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 2 January, 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 45ft palletwide containers which offer comparable capacity to 13.6m road trailers and we believe we can offer a service that will be very competitive with those offered by road hauliers.

“Into Germany, our customers will be able to take advantage of intermodal dispensations that allow a maximum gross vehicle weight of 44 tonnes if a barge or rail sector is incorporated into the overall door-to-door movement. This represents an increase of between three and four tonnes in payload. And when the LKW Maut is finally introduced, there will be further savings available, the actual sums being dependent on destination.”

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, explains Mark Allen, Sea Consortium’s Director, Europe:

“We began operations in the Mediterranean late 1999 and extended our activities to North Europe early this year. 

“This vessel sharing agreement with Geest, one of the largest short sea operators within Europe, is a big step forward in expanding our network and frequency in North Europe. Geest’s expertise in this demanding sector of the market is second to none.

“Our new association with Geest and Odiel will set fresh challenges and we are very much looking forward to this.”

Wout Pronk, Managing Director of Geest North Sea Line, is confident that this new partnership will flourish:

“We have always said that we need partners to make this new service a success. We need high frequency to meet the requirements of our customers. This means the service needs large volumes of cargo from the very beginning. In X-Press Container Line, with its own deepsea feeder traffic, we believe we have found an ideal partner.

“The atmosphere in which we concluded the agreement was very good. Although our core businesses – deepsea feeding and shortsea door-to door transport – are very different, we have a common understanding when it comes to service standards, one which combines determination and flexibility. There is tremendous synergy and first experiences of working together have been well received on both sides.

“Perhaps it is because both companies are family owned that we have quickly established an excellent rapport but whatever the reason, we have been impressed by X-Press’s willingness to create a schedule that fits our needs whilst simultaneously meeting those of its deepsea customers.”

Geest and X-Press are each contributing one vessel to the joint service with Geest and Odiel utilising their space for intra-European door-to-door traffic while X-Press will be moving deepsea containers for its established client base. A high degree of operational flexibility is envisaged, explains Mr de Groot:

“Although we are talking about contributing one ship each to this new service, we don’t expect the ships operated on this route will always be the same pair. We fully expect to interchange vessels with those we both operate on our other services to ensure punctuality and maximise vessel utilisation.

“We will also be looking at ways of utilising other X-Press connections including those to Portugal. However, making sure the Bilbao – Tilbury – Rotterdam link achieves its initial targets will be our primary goal while the introduction of a third weekly sailing is very much on our wish list. With that sort of frequency, we believe we would be able to take a lot of business off the roads.”


Note to editors

The earlier press release first announcing this service can be found on www.dunelmpr.co.uk.

Geest North Sea Line is a Rotterdam-based multimodal shortsea operator with an innovative approach.  Its fleet of container ships provides regular services linking Rotterdam and Tilbury six days a week, Hull and Rotterdam six times a week, Teesport and Rotterdam five times a week, and Grangemouth and Rotterdam twice-weekly eastbound and weekly westbound. Geest's container pool consists of over 4,500 palletwide containers, the majority of which are 45ft units.

Geest offers convenient "one stop shopping" services to many of its customers as well as "just in time" deliveries and door-to-door operations. It transports cargo deep into Europe including: Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Spain as well as Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and parts of the former Yugoslavia.

Geest Ireland Ltd, in which Geest North Sea Line has a 60% interest, operates intermodal routes between Ireland and Continental Europe.

For further information about Geest North Sea Line services please visit its website at www.geest.com or send an e-mail to info@geest.com.

Odiel Bilbao SA, a member of the Odiel Group of Companies, is a leader in the container transportation industry since 1975, with its own subsidiaries operating along the North and West coasts of the Iberian peninsula.

Together with the rest of the members of the Odiel Group such as Naviera del Odiel (Madrid, Andalucia, Canarias), Contenosa (Barcelona), Odiel Levante (Valencia), and Odiel Galicia (Vigo), Odiel Bilbao SA is focused principally on activities related to shipping agency with a mission to provide comprehensive service to customers throughout Spain and Portugal.

The Odiel Group, through its network of affiliates, which includes the shipowner Compañia Trasatlantica Española, covers a broader range of activities including road and rail transport services, container terminal operations, stevedoring, warehousing and logistics.

Sea Consortium and X-Press Container Line are members of the X-Press Feeders Group. They provide a network of feeder services to main line operators in South East Asia, Indian Subcontinent, Arabian Gulf, Mediterranean, Black Sea and Europe. 

The Group moves in excess of 1,000,000 TEU per annum and employs more than 30 ships.

Sea Consortium is based in Singapore and X-Press Container Line in London.  Regional offices in Dubai, Geneva, Genoa, Colombo, Bombay and Port Klang undertake line management.

The Group operates a fleet of modern container vessels ranging from 300 TEU to 1500 TEU capacity from the hub ports of Malta, Barcelona, Gioia Tauro, Rotterdam, Singapore, Port Klang, Colombo and the United Arab Emirates ports of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Khor Fakkan.

Serving the Group’s clients is a 100-strong team of highly trained and motivated shipping specialists who give prompt answers, solve problems, and provide service integrity.  They are supported by the Group’s investment in IT systems and  e-commerce. Further information can be found on www.seacon.com.sg.

For further information, please contact David Cheslin or Sharon Cunningham on Tel: +44 20 7480 0600.

E-mail: info@dunelmpr.co.uk

Website address: www.dunelmpr.co.uk