Image of WEC vessel Vermeer

WEC Lines has expanded its Spain-UK offering with a direct weekly service between Bilbao and London Thamesport, which it said would enable a crucial Monday delivery to UK markets.

The Dutch shortsea and feeder operator launched the Bilbao Shuttle in January, covering the ports of Thamesport, Immingham, Teesport and Blyth via a relay link hubbing at Moerdijk.

WEC Lines UK MD Roger Megann told The Loadstar: “The support of our service has allowed us to quickly take the next steps and bring the mainliner directly to Thamesport, while we continue to grow the other ports on the east coast without compromising those transit times.”

He said the first direct sailing on 5 June by the 809 teu WEC VAN EYCK had been a “major milestone” in the line’s success story, claiming it would cement the company’s position as the preferred carrier on the shortsea trades from Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

“More cargo owners can see the benefit of converting freight from the traditional but expensive trailer option to the flexible and cost and carbon friendly modality of containers. Since Brexit, the traditional shortsea routes from Spain have been congested and supply chains have been damaged,” said Mr Megann.

The new service is a boost for the Hutchison Ports-owned facility, which has struggled in the past few years to attract new business.

“Brexit has shaken up the European logistics landscape, with more and more operators seeking the reliability and predictability afforded by shortsea container services,” said London Thamesport director Mark Taylor.

And one UK shipper told The Loadstar he was pleased more services were opening up at regional ports.

“It’s almost impossible to consistently get time-sensitive boxes out of the bigger ports, and that is no good for products such as fruit and veg that must be on the market by a specific day of the week,” he said, adding that even one day late could see the market lost for certain products.

“WEC Lines and London Thamesport offer a market-leading transit time of 72 hours and a congestion-free port,” claimed Mr Megann and added he believed container haulage turnaround times at Thamesport were “the fastest in the country”.

He said: “Our investment in owned tonnage, rail and equipment is a vast commitment and further expansion of rail to other major Spanish cities will follow.”

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