Felixstowe introduces new Vehicle Booking System

The port of Felixstowe is introducing a Vehicle Booking System (VBS) similar to the one Southampton Container Terminal rolled out when queues of trucks caused chaos at the port (May 2005).

On average the Suffolk port rejects 15% of drivers - about 600 every day - due to incorrect or incomplete information being entered in advance of their arrival. Although the port is open 24 hours a day, 40% of all LGVs arrive within a six-hour period.

VBS is a web-based booking system that provides drivers with a specific hour of the day they can pick up a container. A slot will cost £2 in peak periods but will be free during off-peak times.

The port will set a limit on bookings in the hourly period - with a 'no-show' fine of £21.

A spokesman says the intention is to begin a trial of the system within "a few months", adding: "The trials will commence shortly with a number of volunteer drivers. There will be no charge for them".

Canal could ease traffic

Using the Regents Canal for freight traffic to ease congestion in the capital was suggested at the launch of the Central London Freight Quality Partnership last week.

Guest speaker Christophe Ripert, head of urban goods transport in Paris, outlined the work the city had done to improve freight movement. This included encouraging a modal shift from roads to waterways - prompting speculation from the Ports Authority that Regents Canal could be used in London.

The most pressing issue is parking rules and fines, says a CLFQP spokeswoman. Early results from a spring survey of central London freight operators by the CLFQP suggests transport firms are concerned about the number of penalty charge notices issued.