PD Ports, one of the UK’s major port groups, has been crowned Business of the Year 2019 at the Rail Freight Group’s (RFG) annual awards ceremony.
The port operator took the top prize with judges praising its outstanding commitment to its customers and to the wider local community in the North East.
The judges were particularly impressed by PD Ports’ show of industry leadership in the way it promotes rail freight services, especially across the North, and by launching a second weekly service to Scotland at the business’ own financial risk.
This second weekly service, known as the Teesport Express, was launched last year and combines ferry and rail to replace an alternative ferry service from Rosyth to Zeebrugge which had been withdrawn by its operator.
PD Ports recognised the need to bring about an alternative solution for customers, enabling cargo to be moved more easily to Scotland, with the only existing options in addition to Teesport being to bring it by water to Felixstowe or the Humber and then completing its journey by road.
Thanks to efforts by both operational and commercial teams, the rail service was commissioned within an exceptional timeframe of just six months following the cessation of the ferry service.
Five years after the launch of the company’s Intermodal Rail Terminal at Teesport, the investment has taken the port from strength to strength. The port operator now offers more daily connections to Scotland than any other port in the North.
The two Scotland services combined replace around 12,000 heavy goods vehicles and save approximately 4.6million road miles, resulting in a CO reduction of 5,950 tonnes.
Frans Calje, PD Ports’ CEO, said: “We are delighted to have won this award, as it highlights our promise to deliver the very best customer service, as well as our ongoing commitment to getting more goods moving by rail.
“The fact that the Teesport Express service could be commissioned so quickly demonstrates the strength of the relationships that we hold with our partners within the supply chain as we were able to influence decision-making with ferry and rail operators to get an entirely new service up and running. In addition, we were able to demonstrate a flexible approach with Network Rail Scotland to protect and enhance international trade movements.
“We continue to expand and strengthen our rail freight offering as it provides vital UK connections for our customers and delivers environmental and cost saving benefits.
“Our partnerships with businesses such as DB Cargo ECS Containers and P&O Ferries have laid the foundation for us to integrate our services, allowing us to offer faster and more frequent transit between Scotland and the continent to benefit our customers.
“Customer care is the lifeblood of our business and is embedded in every department, location and function across the UK. As a business we acknowledge that without our customers we wouldn’t operate, and we do everything within our power to help them be successful, profitable and secure their own futures as well as ours.”
The judges also paid tribute to PD Ports continued support to the local community when announcing the port operator as their Business of the Year.
PD Ports was commended for both its internal scheme ‘Find It Fund It’ which helps staff support their chosen local charities, as well as for its partnership with Stockton Riverside College to establish and support the Logistics Academy – an initiative which encourages training and upskilling to current staff and the local population.
The awards were presented by the awards’ sponsor John Smith, MD of GB Railfreight (GBRf), and Simon Coppen of Burgess Salmon at a dinner held on 12 September at the De Vere Latimer Estate Hotel, Chesham.
Maggie Simpson, RFG Executive Director, said: “We continue to be amazed by the excellent and innovative work done by the member of the Rail Freight Group and are pleased to be able to recognise some of them through these awards.”
The Rail Freight Group is the representative body for the rail freight industry in the UK. The annual awards acknowledge outstanding contributions in seeking solutions to increase the volume of goods moving by rail.