adapted from Notteboom, T. and J-P Rodrigue (2010) "Foreland-Based
Regionalization: Integrating Intermediate Hubs with Port Hinterlands",
Research in Transportation Economics, Vol. 27, pp. 19-29.
Foreland and Hinterland-Based Regionalization
Regionalization is a process that can take place both of the
foreland and the
hinterland with the goal to provide a continuity between the
maritime and inland freight transport systems. The concept of
foreland-based regionalization refers to the integration of
intermediate hubs in regional shipping networks, where the maritime
foreland of the intermediate hub is functionally acting as a
hinterland. For reasons like high deviation, small volumes and niche
hinterland (e.g. agriculture), some ports are not that well-connected to the global
long distance shipping network and show limited opportunities to
improve this connectivity. Shipping lines must consider
effective network configurations that tend to focus on major
Freight flows on the foreland and hinterland are not taking place
at the same momentum, particularly since on the foreland
of scale have been more effectively applied than on the hinterland.
In light of an increasing massification of containerized freight
loads, and while the ultimate goal remains atomization (individual
containers delivered to freight owners), the insertion of an
intermediate hub can in some circumstances act as a mitigation
strategy. The largest containerships can call at intermediate hubs
with high capacity and frequency services. Through feedering, ports
serviced through the intermediate hub can have smaller feeder ships (e.g. Panamax class) calling at a high frequency.
At a regional level, several small or medium-sized ports may
realize that it is in their long-term interests to have a higher
level of integration with an intermediate hub, even if it comes at
the expense of shorter distance pendulum services calls.
Foreland-based regionalization can support export-oriented
strategies with a better connectivity of more marginal (or in their
early stage of growth) ports to global shipping networks and thus
international trade. There are also site constraints, environmental
factors or simple market potentials that may limit the volumes
generated by the hinterlands of some ports. On the intermediate hub
side, the volatile long distance transshipment traffic would be
complemented with a more stable and secure regional traffic. Both
the foreland and the hinterland are mutually self-reinforcing, as
hinterland stability can anchor the volatility of the transshipment
function, particularly in light of footloose operators.
A better integration between forelands and hinterlands would
help to insure that returns on investments are higher; subject to
less fluctuation and improving competitiveness of maritime ranges.
This may be a potential outcome of the expansion of the Panama Canal
over North American East Coast ports as transshipment activity
increases in the Caribbean.