Remaining reactive for changeable cargo volumes in wake of Covid impact

The Solent Rail Terminal, at the Port of Southampton saw the inevitable operational impact of Covid-19 when it ‘hit’ in March 2020.

As an organisation with important ‘Key Worker’ status, helping to keep the flow of goods and vital supplies moving into the UK, the company had to rapidly adapt to ensure business continuity. Maintaining the ability to be flexible and adapt to differences in operational flows, Solent Stevedores focused its operations around ensuring safety standards not only continued to be high but that they now incorporated Covid-secure practises as activity ramped up significantly from August. The terminal was typically handling around 4,800 rail moves each month – or 200 boxes each day – during the lockdown period. From September, activity began seeing a significant increase by 140% to 10,750 moves – around 500 boxes every day.

Before lockdown came into force, the terminal was handling 7 trains each day and 6500 box movements every month. When the Stay At Home restrictions were imposed, the bulk/intermodal rail head was handling approximately 5-6 trains a day equating to 1,716 rail moves each year. Since emerging from this initial lockdown phase, operations have increased to nine trains, six days a week, equating to 2,808 rail moves each year. The terminal has seen a 65% increase in rail movements which has shown a 140% increase in rail volume for the market-leading port services provider.

In a typical year, activities focusing around the Solent Terminal handling cargo into and out of the port, would see movement of 300 boxes each day taking approximately 72,000 lorries off the road each year.

Following the initial lockdown period, the sharp increase in rail activity could see a potential of up to 100,000 lorry moves off the road and transferred to rail for 2020.


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