Peel Ports has started expansion work at the £400m Liverpool2 container terminal which opened last year, with its chief executive saying that the company’s “confidence is high” as it looks to the next stage, despite the project being marred by delays and a sinkhole.
Peel Ports is the owner of the Port of Liverpool. Liverpool2 was launched to shipping lines in November, a year later than planned after experiencing delays caused by bad weather during the construction process.
In February, a 10m-wide sinkhole opened up, although Peel said that this did not impact on operations. Work is underway to fix the hole, with a cofferdam constructed to allow for back-filling of the hole and the rebuilding of the concrete surface.
A weak quay wall was the cause of the sinkhole, and an investigation is underway to ensure that the rest of the terminal is unaffected.
Take-up by shipping lines is understood to have been slow, with the opening coming at a time of instability for the international shipping container industry.
However, Peel Ports’ chief executive Mark Whitworth said that the company is “in a good place” in discussions with shipping lines, and “there are more opportunities on the horizon at the Port and our confidence is high as a result.”
Peel is now investing an undisclosed sum in more equipment and port infrastructure works, to expand the terminal and introduce new technology.
This latest phase will include the installation of a further three ship-to-shore cranes and 10 cantilever rail-mounted gantry cranes. These will add to the previous five STS cranes and 12 CRMG cranes installed as part of phase one.
Liverpool2 is a deep water facility built to accommodate the world’s largest container vessels. Peel is campaigning for importers and exporters whose goods are destined for the North of England to switch delivery of ocean-freight from South East ports to the Port of Liverpool, saying that by making the change, the UK will save around £400m a year as well as cut inland freight mileage by 200 million miles by 2020.
Whitworth continued: “This is an important step in the development of Liverpool2 and reflects our confidence and our long term commitment to positioning the North of England as a competitive route to international markets and a major port for global trade.
“The development of the project programme is now well underway. We are currently preparing the outline designs and would look to be in a position to appoint construction partners in spring of next year, with a view to commencement of construction shortly after. We anticipate a completion date for phase two in 2019.
“The world class facilities which we have at Liverpool2 will allow us to capture and grow a greater share of the container market, offering cargo owners in the north of the country a more competitive route to market, getting their goods closer to their end destination.”