But KC Group Shipping asks: Will the world's lines get on board?
There wasn't much of a fanfare. But the arrival of the 58,000-tonne MOL Caledon from South Africa in early November heralded what the operators of London's new, deep-water port believe will be a bright new era for shipping trade in the UK.
The container ship, sailing from Cape Town for Mitsui OKS Lines, became the first scheduled commercial vessel to dock at London Gateway.
After more than a decade of planning and construction across three square miles of development land, DP World London Gateway deep-sea port is now open for business.
At KC Group Shipping, we have been keeping a close eye on developments for a number of reasons.
Predominantly, if the London Hub offers less carbon footprint in transportation for our customers, along with increased efficiency, we welcome it.
The new port's owners say that the £1.5billion project now offers British exporters and importers a more efficient way to ship globally at less cost – and will play a major role in reducing the carbon footprint of logistics companies in the UK.
Studies have also shown that, once fully operational, London Gateway will create 36,000 jobs and contribute £3.2billion a year to the UK's GDP.
The new container port aims to provide serious competition for Felixstowe, currently the UK's largest container port, as well as other south coast ports, including Tilbury and Southampton.
To do so, it needs to attract the major shipping lines – and its deep water berths are its major selling point.
DP World, a leading global port operator with more than 65 marine terminals across six continents, says it has created Britain's new port for today's and the next generation of ships.
Known as 'ultra large container ships'(ULCS), they are up to 400 metres long and can carry over 18,000 shipping containers.
The company has a strong track record of delivery, operating Dubai's ultra-modern port with impressive efficiency.
With the opening of London Gateway, we at KC Group Shipping expect to see a growing battle between UK ports in the fight for business. And that could bring more positive benefits for our clients.
Felixstowe has already gone on the offensive, with a report earlier this year saying it could handle containers for £26 apiece less than its new rival.
Meanwhile, London Gateway is reported as saying it can save shippers £59 per container to the Midlands and North West and £189 per container to London and the South East.
Another study has estimated that the port and its new logistics park will save 148,000 tons of carbon dioxide from British supply chains per year, because of shorter journey times for 2,000 trucks per day.
London Gateway remains confident it can reduce supply chain costs and bring more reliability to importers and exporters.
However, despite all the figures and statistics being used as ammunition by all sides, the true impact the Gateway will have is still something of an unknown.
Its operators are making all the right noises, but we still have not got a clear picture about the level and nature of support for the port from the shipping lines. Hopefully, that will begin to emerge in the next few months.
There is no doubt that it will bring more competition for UK ports and that will create a benefit for the shipping industry, as it reduces congestion, something again that will be good news for KC Group customers.
There may well be another benefit for UK logistic companies, such as the KC Group, from this battle for trade among the port operators.
The hope is that it will spark a slowdown in the ever-continuing rise in handling costs we have faced over recent years.
Operators will now have to think hard before putting up these rates, as they respond to the increasing competition.
And we at KC Group are hopeful we will finally see some much-needed stability in a market where prices have been far from stable.
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