Why is the Port of Felixstowe so important?

The Port of Felixstowe. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

The Port of Felixstowe plays a key role globally - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The Port of Felixstowe has hit the headlines in recent days as concerns have been raised about the levels of congestion there. 

On Tuesday, shipping container giant Maersk said it would be diverting ships away from the port over fears about the levels of congestion. 

But what role does the port play in global shipping?

The Port of Felixstowe. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

The Port of Felixstowe said issues had been improving - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

How many goods go through Felixstowe?

Each year around 2,000 ships come through Felixstowe, including some of the biggest ships in the world. 

The port estimates that it handles 4 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), a measure given to container space. 

It's understood that Felixstowe handles 36% of the UK's containerised freight, giving it an annual trade flow of around £7 billion. 

The Port of Felixstowe. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Containers travel from Felixstowe to across the globe - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

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Where do goods come to Felixstowe from?

Felixstowe takes in goods from across the globe and has some of the deepest water close to the open sea of any European port.

Around 17 shipping lines and 33 services operate from the port going to over 700 ports around the world.

These ports are in a number of different destinations both close to home and further away: including Ireland, The Netherlands, China, Singapore, South Africa and Egypt. 

The Port of Felixstowe. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

The Port of Felixstowe is struggling with congestion - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

What are the issues at the port at the moment?

The Port says that there are a number of issues that have contributed to problems: 

  • Pre- Christmas peak 
  • Haulage driver shortages
  • Congestion at inland terminals
  • Poor vessel schedule reliability 

As a result of these issues the Port says that containers have begun to build-up.

The Port of Felixstowe. Picture: Sarah Lucy Brown

Containers stacked up in Felixstowe - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

What's being done about these issues?

The Port of Felixstowe said that the situation had been improving. 

“The situation is improving and there is more spare space for import containers this week than at any time since the beginning of July when supply chain impacts first started to bite," they said.

“Empty container levels remain high as import containers are returned and we are asking shipping lines to remove them as quickly as possible.”

Co-chairman of the Conservative Party Oliver Dowden insisted the Government was “working through these challenges”.

"We’ve been taking steps to address it, he said.

"Whether it is, for example with training, 5,000 more places for training HGV drivers, making the process more flexible. We’re working through these challenges to address them.”

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