The Size and Growth of Inland Ports: A Statistical Analysis of Determining Characteristics
Patrick Witte, Utrecht University, Bart Wiegmans, Tu Delft, Tejo Spit, Utrecht University
In our paper, we focus our attention on the characteristics of inland ports. Based on a large-scale quantitative dataset we perform various statistical analyses to arrive at a detailed understanding of the determining characteristics of inland ports.
Most scientific attention in freight transportation studies centres around deepsea ports and more in particular container ports, whereas general ports (e.g. dry bulk ports) receive less attention. Especially the efficiency of maritime ports and terminals has received great attention, but also the analysis of the role of ports in transport and supply chains and the analysis of the management and organization of ports and terminals forms part of the body of scientific literature. In the hinterland of deepsea ports, most scientific attention also goes to container terminals in inland ports in combination with the logistics role of inland ports versus the hinterland of the larger maritime ports.
In our paper, in contrast, we focus our attention on the characteristics of inland ports in general. By doing so, we aim to address the undervalued position of inland ports in the academic literature on freight transportation. We have developed a large dataset of roughly 200 inland ports in the Netherlands with information about the transport characteristics of the inland ports combined with economic characteristics of the inland port, the city and the region. Based on this large-scale quantitative dataset we perform various statistical analyses (e.g. multivariate regression analysis, regime analysis) in order to arrive at a detailed understanding of the determining characteristics of inland ports. We try to explain the volume of inland ports, the distribution of this volume over different economic sectors and the growth in volumes by several transport and economic factors. We control for differences in size, in volume growth, in type of port, and in availability of a container terminal in the inland port.
In addition, several hypotheses are tested in order to further elaborate and deepen the analysis. A first hypothesis we test focusses on the relation between the number of employees and businesses in a region versus the size of the inland port. A second hypothesis focusses on the spatial proximity of employees and businesses to the inland port in relation to its size and growth rate. A third hypotheses centres on the characteristics of inland ports with a container terminal versus inland ports without a container terminal. A fourth hypothesis focusses on the characteristics of large inland ports versus the characteristics of smaller inland ports.
Our findings contribute to the understanding of the size and growth of inland ports, as explained by general port characteristics, which is up to now an overlooked part of the academic debate on freight transportation. A better understanding of the characteristics and growth patterns of inland ports might also be beneficial to practitioners and policy-makers in dealing with inland ports’ development strategies in their daily practice.
Association for European Transport