Source: Notteboom, T. and J-P Rodrigue (2005) “Port Regionalization: Towards a New Phase in Port Development”, Maritime Policy and Management, Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. 297-313.
Starting from the initial port site with small lateral quays adjacent to the town center (1), port expansion is the product of evolving maritime technologies and improvements in cargo handling. This is also marked by changing spatial relationships between the port and the urban core, as docks are built further away from the central business district (2). In the later stages, increased specialization of cargo handling, growing sizes of ships, and ever increasing demands for space for cargo-handling and storage results in port activity being concentrated at sites far removed from the oldest facilities. In turn, original port sites, commonly located adjacent to downtown areas, became obsolete and were abandoned (3). Numerous reconversion opportunities of port facilities to other uses (waterfront parks, housing and commercial developments) were created. Three major phases identified so far in the port development process involve setting, expansion and specialization.
The fourth phase concerns regionalization, as more extensive inland connections are established between the port and its hinterland (4). The setting of corridors and freight distribution centers mainly takes two forms:
- Inland waterway ports. These ports are either standard inland maritime or barge ports that are being integrated to hinterland services of coastal ports through shuttle services by barges or smaller ships. This is particularly the case along the Rhine / Scheldt delta where inland barge ports acts as feeders for delta ports such as Rotterdam and Antwerp.
- Inland ports. This is a rather more recent concept where a direct inland connection, particularly through rail, is established between an inland terminal and the port. It takes advantages of intermodal transportation and the improvements in the transshipment efficiency of port terminals. Inland terminals tend to have available space to provide an array of logistical services, such as consolidation and deconsolidation, for freight shipped to congested coastal load center ports.