Port of Tyne reports record growth in cargo volumes

The Port, one of the UK's major deep sea ports, has increased tonnage of cargoes handled by 66% compared to 2010 and has broken its own records for handling cars, containers and bulk cargoes in the form of wood pellets. Total tonnage recorded for 2011 increased by 2.1 million tonnes to 5.3 million tonnes.

The impact of this on the North East economy and jobs is huge. According to an economic impact study by consultants, Arup, the Port's operations in 2011 added over £460 million to the economy of the North East region and supported almost 9,500 jobs - an increase of 700 since 2010.

The boom in volumes is a direct result of over £100 million investment over the last ten years in the Port's infrastructure, increasing capacity and improving services. This included dredging the river to its deepest ever level of 10 metres and consequently the Port can now accommodate 83% of the world's cargo ships and 96% of the world's cruise ships.

The Port directly employs nearly 500 people in its five business areas - Conventional and Bulk Cargo, Car Terminals, Cruise and Ferries, Logistics (containers, warehousing and distribution) and Estates.

The largest increase was in Conventional and Bulk Cargo, where there was a 116% increase in volumes handled. Coal imports almost trebled, rising by 1.3 million tonnes to 2.1 million tonnes, while wood pellet tonnage reached 800,000 tonnes in the first full year's operation of the new wood pellet handling facility.

Car imports and exports rose to a record 667,000 - a 20% increase being achieved partly as a result of the Port's greater capacity with the benefit of the first full year of a new third car terminal. Volumes handled for both Nissan and VW have reached a record high and led to the Port being once again the UK's number one car exporting port.

Demand for components at Nissan, along with rising consumer demand for retail goods helped drive a 25% increase in the number of containers handled, to a record 71,000 teu*.

The Port's business received a further boost with increases in passenger numbers - nearly 600,000 passengers travelled through the International Passenger Terminal either by the DFDS Amsterdam ferry or on one of 20 cruises calling in at the Tyne last summer.

Chief Executive Andrew Moffat said the success reflected the ongoing strategic investment programme. Over ten years more than £100 million has been invested in facilities and infrastructure such as the purpose-designed wood pellet handling facilities which are the largest in Europe, improving the fleet of highly visible trucks, providing new warehousing, and adding working river vessels such as the latest dredger, the Sir Bobby Robson.

He said: "We set out to transform the business three years ago and ensure it remains commercially successful. Our aim is a sustainable and vibrant Port of Tyne and we have focussed on understanding our customers' needs and on developing employees who are the people who have achieved these great results this year.

"The volumes achieved in 2011 are a result of both the significant capital investments we have made to enhance our capacity and capabilities and of course a reflection of the markets in which we are operating.

"However another factor is the cultural change we are seeing in the business. Gaining the Investors in People standard has provided a platform for us to put best practice in developing our people into place.

"And it is also good news that the outlook for 2012 is very positive, showing signs of further growth in bulk cargo, cars, containers and passengers".

James Ramsbotham, Chief Executive of the North East chamber of Commerce, said: "As one of only two UK regions that has a positive balance of trade, our success is closely linked with our ability to export.

"The NECC has constantly championed the critical role that good transport infrastructure plays in helping to deliver that success and in building the future wealth of the region.

"I am delighted that the Port of Tyne's investment can be seen to have led directly to additional trade, which is excellent news for one of our major ports and great news for the whole region."