|Concentration and the formation of multi-port gateway regions in the European container port system: an update|
In: Journal of Transport Geography. Butterworth-Heinemann: Oxford. ISSN 0966-6923; e-ISSN 1873-1236
Concentration; Port system; Europe; Container; Gateway
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The European container port system features a unique blend of different port types and sizes combined with a vast economic hinterland. This paper provides an update of the detailed container traffic analysis developed by Notteboom (1997) by extending it to the period 1985–2008 and to 78 container ports. The paper also aims at identifying key trends and issues underlying recent developments in the European container port system. These trends include the formation of multi-port gateway regions, changes in the hinterland orientation of ports and port regionalization processes. While the local hinterland remains the backbone of ports’ traffic positions, a growing demand for routing flexibility fuels competition for distant hinterlands between multi-port gateway regions. The prevailing assumption that containerisation would lead to further port concentration is not a confirmed fact in Europe: the European port system and most of its multi-port gateway regions witness a gradual cargo deconcentration process. Still, the container handling market remains far more concentrated than other cargo handling segments in the European port system, as there are strong market-related factors supporting a relatively high cargo concentration level in the container sector.