Port system evolution – the emergence of second-tier hubs

Some evidence has emerged of second-tier hubs inserting themselves between hubs and feeder ports, producing a new hierarchy of port networks. This article aims to establish the dynamics of this process based on illustrative cases in Asia, South America, and Europe. Findings reveal spatial factors to include a cluster of small ports with minimal sailing distance within a given range, suitable channel and berth depth, and ideally high capacity inland links. From the economic perspective, demand-side factors include a local captive market and aggregated demand to be captured from other ports, while supply-side factors include diseconomies of scale at traditional hubs, an increase in direct services, an increase in large feeder vessels calling from first-tier hubs which are then transhipped to smaller feeders for serving local ports, and an increase in overland servicing of local smaller ports. From a strategic perspective, vertical and horizontal integration in the shipping sector has produced extensive network economies, whereby shipping lines look to create group-specific port hierarchies, enhanced in the presence of aggressive management strategies and supportive policies. This finding suggests that proactive port stakeholders can in certain circumstances seize the opportunity to capture this role within their port range.


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  • Accession Number: 01688423
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Dec 14 2018 9:32AM