Source: Adapted from 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.
The development of inland terminals is not sufficient to ensure an efficient port regionalization and inland distribution. Infrastructures servicing freight are required inland, a function assumed by distribution centers where vast quantities of freight are processed. The setting of this logistical system can take place in four phases.
Corridor development enhances the clustering of logistics sites both at its nodes and along the main axis (phase 1). Logistics poles exert a location pull on logistics sites by combining an intermodal orientation with cluster advantages underlined by conventional location theories (growth pole theory). Logistics companies are attracted by the same location factors such as market proximity and the availability of intermodal transport and support facilities (phase 2). The geographical agglomeration of logistics companies creates economies of scale and scope, making a location more attractive and further promoting the agglomeration of related activities (phase 3). Geographical differences in labor and land costs, the availability of land, the level of congestion, the location relative to markets, labor productivity, and government policy are among the many factors determining agglomeration within logistics sites.
Phase 4 in the model introduces the regionalization of port activity and a regional load center network formation. A logistics pole performs well if an efficient regional load center network is in place to support cargo linkages in and between logistics zones. In the regionalization phase, the interaction between seaports and inland ports and terminals leads to developing a large logistics pole consisting of several logistics zones. Scale effects ensure high productivity from intermodalism, and the synchronization of goods flows with the logistics of shippers. Seaports are the central nodes driving the dynamics in a large logistics pole, but they simultaneously rely on inland ports to remain competitive.
The process is dynamic as the imbalanced development of inland terminals, and corridors may move bottlenecks from the load center ports to corridors and inland centers. Given this constraint, logistics service providers might consider relocating their logistics sites from saturated areas to new locations. Spatial relocation patterns may change the relative importance and internal spatial configuration of logistics poles.