The move reflects the group’s ambitions to continue strengthening its position in the European 45 ft container market. Naviera del Odiel SA, the Madrid-based holding company of Odiel Bilbao, wants to focus on other segments of the shipping industry. Geest and Odiel Bilbao launched a short-sea service in late 2003, linking the northern Spanish port with London (Tilbury) and Rotterdam and operated by the 340 teu Geest Merchant.
Gerald de Groot, commercial director at Geest, commented: “Increasing volumes of cargo are originating in Spain and the Spanish market still relies on trailers to a great extent. Furthermore, with road haulage costs ever on the increase, Spanish manufacturers need other options for their shipments to the UK, Ireland, Benelux, Germany, Scandinavia, the Baltic and Russia, so the provision of efficient short-sea alternatives is vital. I believe the business has great potential for growth.”
Geest North Sea Line has also launched a new rail link between Rotterdam and Hamburg. The train is operated by leading European intermodal transport provider Hupac. Geest is taking the majority slot capacity on the new service, which is based on 45 ft containers and which will offer fast transit times between the Rotterdam Shortsea Terminal (RST) and northern Germany. Initially the service will run three times a week in both directions, but Geest intends to provide a daily service by the end of the year.