THE Port of Sunderland has seen import and export tonnage reach record highs, after a programme of investment to boost its handling capabilities.
The port has seen a 20 per cent increase in the volume of cargo handled in the last year, the result of investment in improved infrastructure and equipment to enable it to take on more significant projects.
The port, which is owned by Sunderland City Council, announced in December that its rail lines will be reconnected, a response to the surge in cargo projects following an effort to ensure the port is on the radar of industry leaders.
It has also invested in two cranes over the last three years – one a heavy lift crane – to enable it to service larger projects, and areas of the port have been cleared to provide storage space, meaning it is better placed to take on bulk cargo handling projects.
The volume of cargo handled between 2014/15 reached 710,000 tonnes, an increase from the 590,000 tonnes it had managed between 2013/14.
Matthew Hunt, director at Port of Sunderland, said that the increase in cargo handled demonstrated the significant progress bosses had made in positioning the port as a responsive, attractive place to do business with.
He said: “The port is ideally placed to handle cargo projects, being less than five minutes from open sea, and with the capabilities, equipment and space to deal with such assignments.
“We have made great strides in establishing ourselves as the first port of call for clients – and have proven that we are flexible, customer-focused and that we have the capabilities to deliver on a range of projects. It’s great to see this translating into increased business and more and more cargo passing through our docks.”
The port is set for a further boost when the Wear River gets a third crossing, with work starting on the new bridge later this year. The crossing will provide a link from the port to major trunk roads, the A1 and A19, ensuring that freight can be easily transported in and out of the port.
Councillor Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council and chair of the port board, said that Port of Sunderland had enjoyed a few years of unprecedented growth and development, after the council outlined its intentions to focus on making the most of the asset.
He said: “The port is going from strength to strength, and this is just another sign that the investments we are making in infrastructure and equipment are delivering results.
“Port of Sunderland is at the heart of the North East region, and has a really unique offer, and capabilities that are increasing all the time to enable us to take on more challenging projects for our national and international customers.”
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