Surcharge announcement has hit international hauliers' inward traffic
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"Ar this time road hauliers are facing a very serious position due to the imminence of the discontinuation of the 10 per cent import surcharge and the fact that these measures were announced so far in advance", revealed Mr. P. Rothschild, managing director of Continental Ferry Trailers, when he spoke to the Yorkshire section of the Institute of Transport in Leeds on Tuesday. Mr. Rothschild said this had caused serious embarrassment because of the lack of import traffic from all parts of Europe and was having a serious effect on finances.
One way to "hedge" against a shortage of balancing traffic in ferry trailer operations, he suggested, was to introduce flats, which were used widely on the Irish services but had not predominated on Continental routes. The TIR trailer was an expensive piece of equipment and the longer sea routes made the container a more viable proposition. His own view was that while demand for containers might well grow there would still be an expansion of roll-on traffic, though slower than container growth.
After tracing the post-war development of Britain's international haulage, Mr. Rothschild said that, unless a haulier wishing to start international carriage set up his own organization on the other side of the water, he would find that selection of an absolutely dependable foreign partner was the most important factor. C FT's relationship with Konig, of Rotterdam, was one of trust, he said, and he recalled that when his predecessor John Murly first met Peter Driessen, of Konig, during the founding of the partnership, he took great pains to emphasize that I. Leftley (CFT) had been formed in 1800. Mr. Driessen had said nothing but later passed Mr. Murly a sheet of Konig's notepaper on which was printed "Opgericht 1795".
Mr. Rothschild said that the development of roll-on services across the North Sea and the English Channel was such that it might be difficult within the next few years to find conventional shipping services, except for some low-grade bulk traffic. Multiplicity of shipping services brought problems for the international haulier, who had to multiply his offices and depots to suit, which increased overheads. Operating a fleet of tractive units from each terminal was perfectly possible but controlling trailers was extremely difficult and after using a highly decentralized scheme which gave each port office responsibility for its own traffics, CFT had now turned to port-office control of tractive units but with centralized control of trailers. Individual offices still had direct responsibility for the traffic.
Costing was a problem because CFT was not only a haulier hut a forwarding agent; basically, it divided costings into separate haulage, freight forwarding and trailer hire accounts. Mr. Rothschild stressed that although it undertook forwarding it nevertheless numbered forwardingagents among its most valuable customers.
Turning to documentation, he said the standard form of waybill introduced in the EEC was a legal obligation in Holland and had been produced in conjunction with the CMR convention shortly to be ratified by the UK. This would entail greater obligations on the haulier, particularly a higher maximum insurance liability than under RHA Conditions. He said that CFT had found it best to take out a policy covering all possible loopholes in the transit of a vehicle from shore to ship and back to shore again.
Mr. Rothschild thought the Nordic countries' version of the CMR waybill was better than the EEC type because additional copies enabled it to be used as a through bill of lading, and it would fit in with the internationally agreed standard set out in a recent Board of Trade book on document standardization.
The TIR system and the standardization of containers were other topics of interest and Mr. Rothschild commented that, faced with the difficulty of choosing which types of container to buy when there was still lack of agreement among operators, CFT stuck rigidly to the ISO specification and bought 8 ft. by 8 ft. types in the 20 ft. length. This was the one most likely to be in demand and if C. and U. amendments were made it would be suitable for tandem loading at 40 ft. overall.