North Sea Port starts testing more reliable lockage planning for scheduled services in the Terneuzen lock

Published on Fri 13 Sep 2019
North Sea Port is investigating whether shipping services can plan lockages in the Terneuzen lock further in the future. In cooperation with Dutch Rijkswaterstaat and the Flemish and Dutch pilotage, it will start testing lockage planning on Wednesday 18 September 2019.

The test period runs until 31 December 2019. The aim is to refine the lock planning and achieve more sustainable shipping.

During the test period of the planning horizon, the scheduled services operating in the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal will get their lockages more quickly, based on their sailing schedules. The aim is to measure the feasibility and impact of forward planning for sea-going vessels with a high and often fixed frequency. The other sea and inland vessels remain scheduled through the existing methods and agreements.

More reliable lock schedules

"The increase in the number of ships and the increase of scale during the past ten years make it increasingly challenging to set up a lock planning in connection with logistics chains and production units in the port," says CEO Daan Schalck. “In 2018, almost 10,000 sea-going vessels passed the lock. We regard 1,250 of these as scheduled services that will participate in this test. So that is one in 8 sea-going vessels.” Moreover, since the beginning of May 2019, the lock complex has had to deal with restricted use of the Middensluis because of the construction of the Nieuwe Sluis. In the beginning of 2022, in the last straight line of the construction works, the Middensluis will even be closed completely.

North Sea Port wants to make the lock passage as a central link in the nautical chain more reliable by planning lockages at Terneuzen earlier. In this way, the start-up routes of scheduled services can be tailored to the lock passages. Also, nautical service providers such as shipping companies and tugs will know much sooner what is coming to them. It is the intention to improve the planning horizon of the port user (just-in-time), to make the nautical chain more reliable and to make the start-up routes of the shipping services more economical and sustainable.

Sailing schedule as standard for lockage

Daan Schalck: "In the test phase, the scheduled services of DFDS, I-Motion Shipping, Outokumpu and Wagenborg in the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal will be locked through according to their sailing schedule instead of a schedule based on calculated arrival times and assigned prioritization." A decreasing margin will be used so that the reliability of the proposed lockage becomes greater as the remaining sailing time decreases, while still leaving enough room to optimize the locking sequence. If a liner vessel is outside its sailing schedule, the existing prioritization of the lock planning will apply.

During the test period the methodology will be continuously evaluated and adjusted if required. At the end of the test and based on the final results, it will be decided whether to use the new methodology, or to extend the test or to extend the test to include non-line vessels.


For questions about this test you can always contact the North Sea Port Harbour Masters Service, on