China on verge of developing 2,500mph ‘flying’ trains to rival Elon Musk’s Hyperloop

China trains

The new trains would be the quickest in the world
The state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) is developing the innovative trains, which are 10 times faster than the world’s fastest bullet trains.Scientists have said the new trains will rival the new Hyperloop system being built by the billionaire Elon Musk.

Deputy general manager at CASC, Liu Shiquan, said their scientists would be developing the very fast trains of the future that are able to “fly on the ground”.

Train in China

These ‘flying trains’ would allow passengers to travel from Beijing to Wuhan in central China in half an hour, according to the Chinese aerospace company.The journey currently takes five hours by train and is around 720 miles in distance.

China’s state-owned website The Paper said: “The corporation has built rich experience and accumulated technological know-how through major projects, and it has the capabilities in simulation, modelling and experimentation for large-scale projects, as well as the world-class design capability for supersonic aircraft, all of which lay the important ground for the super-fast train project.”China already has the most high speed trains in the world and CASC have said they will work with other researchers to create the new high speed trains.

Mao Kai, chief designer of the system, said in an interview with a state newspaper the train will ensure safety by allowing for acceleration that is slower than that of civil aircraft.


The supersonic train could be rolled out in 60 countries across the globe
If the company does succeed in developing these ‘flying trains’, they would be travelling at speeds that are four times faster than commercial flights and more than three times the speed of sound.The contractors have said they would transport the supersonic train to more than 60 countries across Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

The top speed recorded by the Concorde jet before it was deemed too unsafe in 2003 was 1,354 mph.

However, critics of the project have said the human body would not be able to withstand such an intense acceleration for very long.

Professor at Beijing Transport University, Zhao Jian, said: “In that case, are the passengers going to be astronauts only?“There would be high costs involved in improving the speed in stages, I wonder if it would be economically viable to do so.”

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop could take passengers from London to Edinburgh in half an hour, a journey that currently takes more than four hours.

The developer has described the transport system as a “cross between a Concorde, a railgun and an air hockey table”.

The Hyperloop would allow passengers to travel in pods inside hide tubes.

Removing all of the friction from the technology would mean that the Hyperloop could carry passengers at around 760 mph.

Container Ships Lowered Emissions by 2.4% during 2016

BSR’s Clean Cargo Working Group (CCWG) announces the release of its 2016 Global Maritime Trade Lane Emissions Factors report, based on emissions reported by more than 3,200 ships from 22 of the world’s leading ocean container carriers that represent 87 percent of the global ocean container shipping industry by volume. The data show that the industry improved performance of greenhouse gas emissions by 2.4 percent (per TEU-km) from 2015 to 2016, a lower rate of improvement than in previous years.

This highlights that performance continues to improve but demonstrates the critical importance of collaboration and collective action to enable shipping to contribute to global emissions reductions targets. This was also the first year that 100 percent of carriers included in the emissions factors were verified using the CCWG procedure and guidance for verifying CO2 and SOx data.

The Clean Cargo Working Group has also reached a major milestone of 50 corporate members. The group now includes 22 container carriers and 28 of this industry’s largest customers—both global brands and freight forwarders. APL Logistics, CEVA Logistics, EFL, Expeditors International, LF Logistics, Panalpina Management Ltd., Philips Lighting, and SAT Albatros all joined in 2017. The list of all group members can be found here. “Partnerships along the value chain are key to truly conducting business sustainably. In joining CCWG, we join a group of peers dedicated to accelerating sustainability in the container shipping industry,” said Nicola Kimm, Head of Sustainability, Environment, Health & Safety at Philips Lighting, one of the new shippers to join in 2017. “Furthermore, we gain access to reliable and accurate data on individual carrier performance, enabling us to make better informed procurement decisions and drive down carbon emissions of our logistics.”

The group continues to foster environmental performance innovations for the sector, such as a pilot by members Electrolux and Hamburg Sud to reduce pollution in ports. CCWG has also kicked off a materiality assessment to prioritize the most critical social, ethical, and environmental impacts industrywide that will help CCWG to set a vision for 2030 and a three-year agenda. “CCWG provides so much more than relevant, credible data; they are also the forum to work collaboratively with our supply chain and other buyers to make progress toward the Electrolux ‘For the Better’ sustainability framework,” said Tomas Dahlman, Director, Global Energy Strategies for Electrolux. “The group works on several innovative initiatives that enable us and the shipping industry to work more sustainably.”

BSR is a global nonprofit organization that works with its network of more than 250 member companies and other partners to build a just and sustainable world. From its offices in Asia, Europe, and North America, BSR develops sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research, and cross-sector collaboration
Source: BSR

Transport system for a growing New Zealand

National Party media release


Transport system for a growing New Zealand

National is committed to building the infrastructure and transport system New Zealand needs to ensure our ongoing economic prosperity is secured, National Party Transport Spokesperson Simon Bridges says.

“In Auckland, the commercial capital of New Zealand, we are bringing a number of transport projects online. The latest project, the Waterview Tunnel, has transformed the way people and freight move around our biggest city,” Mr Bridges says.

“We know more needs to be done. That’s why National is committed to ensuring Auckland’s transport needs are met.”

National will:

· Declare the $955 million Mill Road project as a State Highway, removing the responsibility from Auckland Council. This will provide funding certainty for this important project through the National Land Transport Fund and free up capital for Auckland Council to reinvest in other high priority transport projects.

· Work with Auckland Council to accelerate the AMETI Eastern Busway and associated Reeves Road flyover.

· Work with Auckland Council on a mass transit solution between the CBD and Auckland Airport and complete route protection.

· Continue construction of the $3.4 billion City Rail Link project on the fastest possible timeline.

· Start construction on the new East-West Link State Highway.

· Accelerate construction on the: Northwestern Busway; State Highway 16 and 18 interchange; Penlink; Southern Motorway widening between Papakura and Drury; widen State Highway 20B to improve eastern access to Auckland Airport; and add Airport-Manukau bus priority lanes on State Highway 20, including Puhinui interchange.

· Build the Third Main Rail Line and extend electrification to Pukekohe.

· Continue investigations for the introduction of road pricing.

“National’s transport policy will continue to see record levels of investment in Auckland to support the city’s growing transport needs. We have a track record of delivering world-class projects on time and on budget,” Mr Bridges says.

“We are today releasing our transport policy that delivers for all New Zealanders and will provide the country with the transport system it needs.

“Our plan demonstrates that we are committed to building the world-class infrastructure the country needs. We will keep people and freight moving, while supporting our strong economic and population growth,” Mr Bridges says.

National’s transport policy will:

· Deliver the $10.5 billion next generation of Roads of National Significance. These are nation-building, lead infrastructure projects which will encourage future economic growth, rather than waiting until the strain on the network becomes a handbrake on progress.

· Accelerate Regional Roading projects that are important for regional development and growth faster than otherwise planned.

· Complete our $600 million investment in fixing the worst 90 black spots around the country, reducing deaths and serious injuries by 900 over 10 years.

· Continue to invest at record levels in public transport including an additional $267 million investment in commuter rail in Auckland and Wellington.

· Grow our air links with other countries to bring on more flights and cheaper airfares.

· Continue with the $333 million Urban Cycleways Programme that will see 54 cycleway projects built in 15 centres across the country, marking the single biggest investment in cycling in New Zealand’s history.

· Accelerate the uptake of Electric Vehicles, with the Government to lead by example with 1 in 3 vehicles in the Government fleet being electric by 2021.

“National is committed to building the infrastructure and transport system New Zealand needs to ensure our ongoing economic prosperity is secured,” Mr Bridges says.

“We also know that strong transport connections are critical for our growing regions and that’s why we are investing strongly to support their growth.

“National’s plan integrates roads, railways, ports, industrial hubs and air services, ensuring that we have a coherent and balanced approach to New Zealand’s transport needs.”

Funding questions over Labour’s $5b trams for Auckland

Labour is unclear how it will fund a $5 billion plan for modern trams in Auckland, but says Auckland Council will shoulder a “significant” share of the cost.

Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesman Phil Twyford today said he did not know how the costs will be shared between the Government and Auckland Council, except to say council will not pay the majority.

Twyford also did not know whether modern trams, also known as light rail, will sit on the Government or Auckland Council’s balance sheet.

In her first public appearance as Labour leader, Jacinda Ardern promised fast modern trams along two routes from the CBD to the airport and West Auckland within 10 years at a cost of up to $5b. This would be followed by trams to the North Shore.

Labour has promised to fund its Auckland Transport package by a combination of increased expenditure, cancelling or scaling back existing transport projects like the $1.8b east-west road through the city’s industrial belt and giving Auckland Council the ability to set a regional petrol tax.

Twyford said Labour would change the mix and priorities of projects in the city’s 10-year transport plan and spend an extra $2.1b. The overall plan would cost $15b, including the light rail projects to the airport and West Auckland, and had a $6b funding gap, he said.

Twyford said Labour was committed to funding the full $15b programme, but could not say how much Auckland Council would pay towards trams.

“Auckland Council is going to end up contributing a significant amount of that, but probably the smaller amount, not the majority,” said Twyford.

The Government and Auckland Council are sharing the cost of the $3.4b City Rail Link.

Labour Party Auckland Issues spokesman Phil Twyford.

Labour Party Auckland Issues spokesman Phil Twyford.

Asked whose balance sheet the trams would sit on, Twyford said: “We haven’t worked that out yet. That is something we will work out when we sit down with Auckland Transport to renegotiate ATAP (the joint government-council transport plan)”.

With Auckland Council starting work on a new 10-year budget, Twyford said Labour could have a positive impact on council’s ambitions for public transport.

“We are going to front up with some serious resources to fund it and make it happen,” said Twyford, saying the New Zealand Transport Agency would fund rail projects under Labour.

It is unclear how the council, which carries the $3.4b City Rail Link on its balance sheet, could absorb another $5b for trams when the council is right up against its debt ceiling, which, if breached could lead to a credit rating downgrade and drive up borrowing costs.

Labour has said a regional fuel tax of 10 cents a litre would raise $160m a year for Auckland Council. The Herald estimates a 10c-a-litre tax would raise $100m a year.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said Auckland recognises that we need to have skin in the game.

“We’re prepared to share in the costs of investing in transport infrastructure in our city, but we need government to help us expand the base from which we generate revenue to pay for it,” he said.

Goff, the former Labour MP who campaigned during the mayoralty for light rail, said trams to the airport is a priority and the latest ATAP update increases by $700m to $1.2b the money set aside for trams or rapid buses on the isthmus and to the airport.

“I welcome announcements from both parties that central government will contribute a significant share towards Auckland’s transport investment needs.

“I favour road pricing mechanisms rather than general rates increases. That would include options of congestion charging, tolling or a fuel tax to help generate the levels of funding required for transport infrastructure investment in Auckland. We’re also exploring the use of targeted rates and value uplift (higher rates for businesses that benefit from projects).

“I look forward to discussions with whoever forms our Government post-election to progress plans for light rail in Auckland,” Goff said.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges could not be reached for comment.

Northwestern Motorway ‘positively begs’ for a higher speed limit

West Auckland driver Bevan Gracie was disappointed to learn he could only drive up to 80kmh on the upgraded, four-lane ...
West Auckland driver Bevan Gracie was disappointed to learn he could only drive up to 80kmh on the upgraded, four-lane Northwestern Motorway.

Amidst calls to slash the speed limit on many New Zealand roads, fuming West Aucklanders are campaigning to go faster on one of theirs.

They’ve set up an online petition to get the four lane Northwestern Highway’s speed limit back up to 100kmh, where it was before the billion dollar roadworks for the Waterview Tunnel began.

Construction has been completed but an 80kmh speed limit, considered by many to be temporary, was made permanent — a decision drivers of the sleek new road have deemed a “ludicrous” recipe for road rage.

Much of one of Auckland's newly upgraded motorways is too slow for many motorists.

Much of one of Auckland’s newly upgraded motorways is too slow for many motorists.  Especially as motorists further south are poised to legally drive 110kmh for the first time.


In April, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) announced that 80kmh would be the permanent speed limit for the 8km stretch of highway between Rosebank Rd and Spaghetti Junction, spanning the Waterview Tunnel’s entrance.

West Auckland's Saten Sharma, 50, says the 80kmh speed limit on the northwestern motorway is "frustrating".

West Auckland’s Saten Sharma, 50, says the 80kmh speed limit on the northwestern motorway is “frustrating”.

Long time Westie Bevan Gracie said driving down the Northwestern left him fed up now, and that he was sceptical the lower limit would improve safety.

“I think the frustration you feel going so slowly on that road makes it more dangerous,” he said.

His fellow West Auckland motorist Saten Sharma, who signed the petition, said driving 80kmh on the newly-upgraded road “feels like you’re not even moving”.

The Great North Rd interchange heading west along the VSL causeway should be 100kmh, Graham Wakefield says.

The Great North Rd interchange heading west along the VSL causeway should be 100kmh, Graham Wakefield says.

“On weekends, the most frustrating thing is it’s empty, and you’re still doing 80kmh,” he said.

“Are we saying our drivers are so unqualified they can’t drive close to 100kmh on the motorway?”

The petition to raise the new speed, which had more than 10,000 signatures to date and would get submitted to NZTA if it reached 15,000, posed the question of why a “brand new four lane motorway” could not handle a higher speed limit.

Sharma says the motorway 80kmh is just 10kmh more than some residential areas and the motorway was not one.

Sharma says the motorway 80kmh is just 10kmh more than some residential areas and the motorway was not one.

NZTA’s system design manager Brett Gliddon justified it as “worldwide best practice” to have 80kmh on approaches to tunnels, to reduce the risk of crashes.

He said the agency had been “monitoring the operational and safety performance” of the network since the tunnel opened. However, he couldn’t comment on whether the petition might impact change.


Last month Associate Transport Minister Tim Macindoe​ announced that speed limits on some of the country’s motorways would be raised by the end of the year.

The Tauranga Eastern Link and parts of the Waikato Expressway would be the first roads that motorists can travel on at 110kmh.

Macindoe said higher speed limits would be “both safe and appropriate” on roads with at least two lanes in each direction, a median barrier, no significant curves, and no access to neighbouring properties.

The variable speed limit on SH16, in green, has a maximum limit of 80kmh, as does the blue.

The variable speed limit on SH16, in green, has a maximum limit of 80kmh, as does the blue.


However, calls for speed reductions on many New Zealand roads remain.

Earlier this year, police advocated for the speed limit on the Coromandel’s State Highway 25A to be lowered from 100kmh to 80kmh. Thames roading sergeant Jim Corbett said annual crash tallies of 70 or more were not uncommon on the road, and that high speeds were a contributing factor.

NZTA's system design manager Brett Gliddon says the agency takes on all customer feedback.

NZTA’s system design manager Brett Gliddon says the agency takes on all customer feedback.

Residents associations in Canterbury have also called for the same speed reduction on some rural roads in their area, citing safety concerns. Last year, Christchurch City Council cut its inner city speed limit down to 30kmh for most streets.

Cantabrian mother of two Lucinda Rees has been campaigning for speed limits outside schools to be lowered to 40kmh “nationally, across the board” for the last ten years.

She said she was against speed limits being raised on any New Zealand road — including four lane motorways — because the “education and standard of Kiwi drivers just isn’t up to it”.

“I think raising speed limit will just make the road toll even higher,” she said.

But West Auckland driver Graham Wakefield said the “ludicrous” 80kmh section of the Northwestern needed to be moved back up to 100kmh.

“The quality of construction and the number of lanes each way positively begs for it,” he said.​

Iwi at odds over East West Link

Auckland hapū Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei has lashed out at Hauraki tribal support for the East West Link in Auckland.

An image of the completed East West roading project.

An image of the completed East West Link roading project, which would include a four-lane road, cycleway and walkway, between Penrose and Onehunga. Graphic: Supplied / NZTA

The Environmental Protection Authority has been holding a board of inquiry hearing over the past 10 weeks to hear public submissions on the NZ Transport Agency’s plan to build the four-lane highway between Penrose and Onehunga in Auckland.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei spokesperson Ngarimu Blair said he was encouraged Manukau Harbour iwi were united in their fight to protect the Manukau and Te Hopua a Rangi from further destruction.

He said the project would destroy 25 hectares of habitat for rare and endangered species along the Mangere inlet.

“It angers us … that Hauraki-based iwi such as Ngāti Maru and Ngāti Pāoa who are not ahi kaa here submitted in support or remained neutral on the motorway.

“This is the problem when boundaries are not respected as NZTA conveniently give equal weight to the korero of iwi who do not live here.

“Those iwi should simply leave this to us as we are the ones left dealing with the consequences of this roading.”

Ngāti Maru spokesperson Paul Majurey said Mr Blair was attacking NZTA for engaging with all mana whenua on the roading project.

“It is a matter of record that Ngāti Maru lodged a neutral submission on the project given there are outstanding issues over the protection of spiritual and cultural values and wahi tapu.”

Mr Majurey said Ngāti Maru was one of the 13 iwi of the Tāmaki Collective that are recognised in the collective settlement deed and collective settlement legislation with outstanding claims in relation to the Manukau Harbour.

He said there were also Tāmaki tribes who lodged submissions in support of the roading project, such as Ngāti Tamaoho.

The hearing is due to end on 15 September.

Experts plan world’s biggest sailing cargo ship

The Quadriga sustainable shipping project aims to build the world’s largest cargo sailing ship, which could carry up to 2,000 cars.

Quadriga, which was first announced by German firm Sailing Cargo, aims to become the world’s first and largest sailing cargo ship. UK-based marine classification specialist Lloyd’s Register announced last week that it has joined the project.

Lloyd’s Register wrote on its website that the vessel will be equipped with four DynaRig masts, which are modern versions of sailing ships’ square-rigged masts. It is expected to operate on hybrid propulsion with sails and diesel-electric engines. In addition, when carrying peak loads, the vessel will have an optional battery system.

The vessel, which is 558-feet long, will be capable of sailing at between 10 and 12 knots. It is expected to reach 14-16 knots in the next few years, according to Lloyd’s Register.

“It’s a very exciting initiative to be involved in. It’s always motivating for us to be involved from the concept stage of any project, especially those that involve innovative technology and new ways of doing things,” said Nico Dettmann, Lloyd’s Register’s marketing and sales manager for Central and Eastern Europe, Marine & Offshore, in a statement. “We have a long history of working with and supporting our clients to bring their new and novel concepts, safely and robustly from inception to operational reality.”

Lloyd’s Register believes that wind-assisted propulsion can provide realistic renewable power in the shipping industry. According to the organization’s study Low Carbon Pathways 2050, in order to reach the Paris Agreement’s low emissions requirements, low-carbon ships will be necessary.

“We must do the right thing for the future of our industry; the Quadriga project combines traditionally proven systems with cutting edge technology and aims to provide a solution to reduce CO2 emissions,” said Uwe Köhler, founder of the Quadriga project.
Source: FoxNews

CMA CGM to build world’s largest container ships at Chinese yards

French shipping group CMA CGM plans to build nine of the world’s largest container ships at two Chinese shipyards, the China Daily newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co confirmed that it and its sister yard Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co, had received a letter of intent from CMA CGM for the ships, which would be capable of carrying 22,000 20-foot equivalent unit containers (TEU), the newspaper said.

The final order was subject to board approval from both sides, the newspaper said. Both yards are owned by state-run China State Shipbuilding Corporation.

Should they be built, CMA CGM’s 22,000 TEU vessels will leapfrog the OOCL Hong Kong to take the crown of the world’s largest container ships. The OOCL Hong Kong has a carrying capacity of 21,413 TEU.

Global container shipping lines in recent years have been competing to build the biggest ships in order to gain economies of scale to slash shipping costs. However, such mega-ships are also being blamed for contributing to the overcapacity glut plaguing the container industry.
Source: Reuters

OOCL Japan named, sister vessel OOCL Hong Kong achieved a Guinness World Records Title

OOCL announced that Hull number H2174, the third in their line of six 21 thousand TEU class containerships, has been named as the OOCL Japan at the Samsung Heavy Industries shipyard.

Among industry friends, colleagues and business partners at the naming event, Mr. Andy Tung, Chief Executive Officer of OOCL, thanked all those who contributed to the success of the OOCL Japan, particularly the shipyard for all their support in their contribution to OOCL’s fleet of 21,413 TEU vessels.

“Samsung Heavy Industries is one of leading shipbuilders in the world, and we have always valued their level of commitment to quality and the versatility to tackle on new challenges, just as we are doing now to build these incredible 21 thousand TEU class vessels, the largest containerships in the world to date,” said Mr. Tung.

In fact, this would be the second time that OOCL is breaking records. The last time OOCL set a Guinness World Records title was for the largest containership back in April 2003 with the OOCL Shenzhen, an 8,063 TEU vessel.

“Once again, we are very delighted to be setting yet another record with our long-time business partner because earlier this week, we have been confirmed by the Guinness World Records that the OOCL Hong Kong has officially been recorded as the world’s biggest containership by carry capacity at 21,413 TEU.”

The OOCL Japan will be serving the Asia-Europe trade lane on the LL1 service and her port rotation is: Shanghai / Ningbo / Xiamen / Yantian / Singapore / via Suez Canal / Felixstowe / Rotterdam / Gdansk / Wilhelmshaven / Felixstowe / via Suez Canal / Singapore / Yantian / Shanghai in a 77-day round trip.

OOCL is pleased to say that our network operations with our alliance partners are continuing as planned and the new products, including the LL1 service, that were launched in April are settling in well.

Commenting on the timing of the deployment of our 21,413 TEU vessels this year, Mr Tung said: “The economic growth fundamentals continue to show further improvement so far this year, and under the new industry landscape, we are seeing signs of a stronger rebound after witnessing significant volume growth, increased liftings, and more sustainable rate levels that are positively impacting revenues in the first half of 2017. We are pleased to be rolling out these new vessels under the current environment, and look forward to solid demand growth on a much stronger trajectory.”
Source: OOCL

S. Korean shipping sector still reeling from Hanjin fall

South Korea’s shipping industry is still reeling from the fallout from Hanjin Shipping Co.’s bankruptcy last year as the remaining companies have yet to fill the vacuum left by Hanjin, once the nation’s top player, analysts said Monday.

Hanjin Shipping, previously the world’s seventh-largest shipper, was put under court receivership in September last year as its creditors rejected a self-rescue plan and refused to save the failing business before it was declared bankrupt in early February.

Hanjin Shipping, established in 1977, and local shippers had been groaning under severe financial strain because of falling freight rates stemming from an oversupply of ships and a protracted slump in the world economy.

Hanjin’s bankruptcy sent shock waves through the whole shipping industry, but some rival companies inwardly welcomed it as a rare opportunity to expand their market presence.

One year after Hanjin sought court protection from creditors, however, Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. and other domestic shipping companies are still struggling to make their presence felt in the global market, despite some signs of a recovery in their business such as rising freight rates.

Some skeptics even voice concerns that South Korea, once a shipping powerhouse, could degenerate into a minnow on the global stage without concerted efforts to hone its competitive edge.

Following the court receivership, Hanjin’s vessels and routes were sold to its domestic and global rivals, with its global network, including regional headquarters and agencies across the world, fading out of existence.

Before the failure, Hanjin operated a fleet of 100 container vessels and 44 bulk carriers, ranking the container line among the world’s top seven players.

As domestic financial authorities wished, Hyundai Merchant Marine and SM Line Corp. acquired some of the Hanjin fleet, but its core assets — nine vessels with capacities of about 13,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) — were sold to Maersk Line of Denmark and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) of Switzerland.

Domestic shipping companies have also failed to purchase all 71 global routes operated by Hanjin. SM Line bought 50 U.S.-Asian and inter-Asian routes, but the remaining routes were closed.

Hyundai Merchant Marine and SM Line took over about 10 Hanjin container terminals at home and abroad, but its core flagship terminal in New York’s Long Beach was sold to Maersk.

An industry insider expressed regret over the local financial authorities’ decision on Hanjin’s bankruptcy. “Hanjin had a large amount of tangible and intangible assets, and some say it will be impossible to form a shipper of Hanjin’s scale again,” he said. “It is regrettable for the financial authorities to decide on a bankruptcy from the financial perspective without fully considering the characteristics of the shipping industry.”

Despite South Korea’s efforts to revive the shipping industry, domestic players are said to have a long way to go to catch up with global leaders in consideration of various indicators.

The combined capacity of domestic shippers catering to overseas routes — Hanjin and Hyundai Merchant Marine — stood at 1.05 million TEUs as of the end of August last year, but the number for Hyundai Merchant Marine and SM Line plunged to 390,000 TEUs a year later.

The tumble strikes a sharp contrast to global leaders’ fierce competition to increase capacity through mergers and acquisitions and placing new orders for container ships in the wake of Hanjin’s bankruptcy, according to analysts.

“Before Hanjin’s insolvency, there were growing calls that top local players Hanjin and Hyundai Merchant Marine should merge to enhance competitiveness before their financial health worsens further,” a market analyst said on the customary condition of anonymity. “In retrospect, it leaves much to be desired.”

Hyundai Merchant Marine has an ambitious plan to emerge as a global shipping line with a capacity of 1 million TEUs by placing new ship orders, but industry watchers say it can’t attain the goal immediately since it usually takes three to four years to take delivery of a ship after an order is placed.

On top of the decreased capacity, the local shippers’ share of U.S.-Asia routes has also dropped over the past year. Hanjin and Hyundai Merchant Marine had a combined share of 10.9 percent on the routes as of the end of June last year, with Hyundai Merchant Marine holding 5.8 percent a year later.

With the local shipping industry struggling in the wake of Hanjin’s bankruptcy, the South Korean government is striving to forge measures that can help domestic shippers get back on their feet.

In October last year, the government unveiled a package of steps aimed at strengthening the shipping industry’s competitiveness. The Moon Jae-in government, which began in May, set the establishment of a shipping powerhouse as one of its 100 policy goals.

The Moon administration will also provide support to a business alliance that Hyundai Merchant Marine and 13 other shippers launched early this month to work together to develop new shipping routes and operate overseas terminals. It also plans to set up a state-funded maritime promotion corporation by June next year.

Experts, however, caution that it remains to be seen whether such measures can bear fruit. “The government needs to pay closer attention to demands from the shipping industry,” a source said. “It should come up with a mid- and long-term aid package, given the traits of the shipping industry.”
Source: Yonhap