Port of Liverpool Credit Peel Ports
Credit Peel Ports

Hauliers have praised the port of Liverpool for tackling significant delays in driver wait times and problems with slot bookings.

At one point the delays were such that some had refused to enter the port and questioned its business viability.

But, over the past week, haulage firms pointed to a remarkable turnaround in access to the Mersey gateway, with some suggesting operator Peel Ports was encouraged to act by a string of articles by The Loadstar highlighting the worsening conditions.

“We saw an overnight improvement at the port after the first article was published,” one haulier told The Loadstar.

“It has definitely improved in terms of turnaround time – I would say wait times are down to 60-90 minutes – and, while VBS slots are still short in terms of supply, we’re seeing success in obtaining them for same-day deliveries.

“The port is also releasing additional slots through its hourly resource checks; it is much better – still not where it was last year, but better.”

Another source told The Loadstar: “I doubt they would have been so co-operative without your input.”

But the source said a continuing sticking point was the inability, since the start of June, to make container changes on an already allocated VBS.

The Loadstar began hearing from increasingly unhappy hauliers, claiming a combination of the port being “understaffed and overworked” and a faulty VBS system were leading to two-hour jobs lasting the better part of a day.

At one point, the port even blocked Monday bookings, forcing hauliers to use off peak slots – with associated driver overtime – to service customers, all but cutting out their profits.

One said: “We will be moving away from the port and looking to move different types of cargo as the issues there have not made it economically viable.”

This morning, however, that same haulier praised the port for the action it had taken to address the issues, noting a “major improvement” in the operating environment.

“We are managing to get most of our drivers loaded for next-day deliveries without too much fuss, and the back-up of a twilight VBS (midnight to 4am) on delivery day is also more accessible,” it said.

“One has to be honest, and things are better in the container port itself. They knew they had a problem, admitting it went a long way, so fair play to them.”

Following our reports on the issues faced by hauliers at Liverpool, other operators contacted The Loadstar saying they were facing similar issues at the Hutchison-operated port of Felixstowe. But a spokesperson for the port roundly rejected the claims, saying there were “no current haulage issues”.

Asked if the situation at Felixstowe had improved, one haulier who declined to be named for fear of losing access to the port, reported there had been “no change” over the weekend.

But another source also questioned the veracity of complaints levelled at Felixstowe, saying it was one of the only ports in Northern Europe not running heavily behind.

Reports that Felixstowe was closed today due to heavy winds were not true said the Felixstowe spokesperson, “It was closed for a very brief time this morning due to high winds, but it was only brief,” he said, adding that he could see cargo moving by road, rail and sea.

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