Last month Chris Lawrenson, MD of Pentalver, warned that the container haulage market would “change dramatically” over the next 12 months when the London Gateway opens at the end of the year.

Well, Lawrenson’s crystal ball was correct. (Although he didn't predict London Mayor Boris Johnson turning up on site a couple of weeks ago - as pictured.)


Despite Marks & Spencer being the first landside customer at Britain’s newest port development – actual names of shipping lines coming in to the DP World owned site have been few and far between. Actually, they were non-existent until yesterday (and not actually having any containers coming into the site would have made it quite difficult for container hauliers to make some money out of it).

But, according to a document seen by The Hub, the big loser will be Tilbury, as from November. It says:

“The SAECS Service member lines - Safmarine, Maersk, MOL and DAL have decided to move their  UK call from the London Container Terminal Tilbury to the new London Gateway Terminal. The first vessel to call at London Gateway Terminal is the MOL Caledon 136B/137A in week 45.

“The SAECS members are proud to be a front runner in this port development in the UK. With this change of terminal the lines aim to secure not only benefits for their customers through the  new infrastructure (such as improved rail connections) and access to UK markets, but also operational advantages which will assist the lines in maintaining schedule integrity and reliability, while enabling the customers to further streamline their supply chains.”

But doubts in the industry remain over what London Gateway will actually do for container hauliers. The economy is hardly booming, and Britain’s port infrastructure has not been straining at the seams when it comes to capacity. Thamesport in Kent and Southampton still have room to grow, according to one of our friendly sources. And Britain’s biggest container port, Felixstowe, expanded in 2011 to accommodate some of the bigger than usual 18,000 TEU Triple-E ships that will begin docking later in the year.

Whatever happens DP World, which operates some 60 ports around the world (including Southampton it must be said) will not want to see London Gateway fail. This will mean that container hauliers up and down the country will have to be quick reacting to shipping line changes, and most likely some pricing structure changes too.