The Spatial Development of a Port System

The Spatial Development of a Port System

Source: Notteboom, T. and J-P Rodrigue (2005) “Port Regionalization: Towards a New Phase in Port Development”, Maritime Policy and Management, Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. 297-313. 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.

In its spatial development, a port system would evolve from an initial pattern of scattered, poorly connected ports along the coastline (Phase 1; mid 19th century) to the main network consisting of corridors between gateway ports and major hinterland centers (Phase 4; 1980s). Models of port system development did not explain the rise of new hub terminals and did not incorporate inland freight distribution centers and terminals as active nodes in shaping load center development. This led to two extensions to the model:

  • The first extension (Phase 5; late 1980s – early 1990s) encompassed the explicit integration of transshipment hubs. They tend to have greater depth since they were built recently to accommodate modern containership drafts, placing them at a technical advantage. Increasing volumes can lead to an increasing segmentation in liner service networks and a hierarchy in hubs (both ‘offshore’ and ‘mainland’).
  • The second extension (Phase 6; from the late 1990s) relates to incorporating inland freight distribution centers and terminals as active nodes in shaping load center development. The port regionalization phase is characterized by strong functional interdependency and even joint development of a specific load center and (selected) multimodal logistics platforms in its hinterland, ultimately leading to the formation of a regional load center network.