Liner Service is a service that operates within a schedule and has a fixed port rotation with published dates of calls at the advertised ports.. A liner service generally fulfils the schedule unless in cases where a call at one of the ports has been unduly delayed due to natural or man-mad causes..
Example : The UK/NWC continent container service of MSC which has a fixed weekly schedule calling the South African ports of Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and carrying cargo to the UK/NWC ports of Felixstowe, Antwerp, Hamburg, Le Havre and Rotterdam..
The liner ship has the following features:
- Liner ship is designed to carry a variety of cargo, with spaces for bales, bundles, boxes, barrels, drums, etc, as well as for reefer (refrigerated) cargo. The designs of the holds and number of decks in cargo will be different from those of a tramp. With the increased share of containerized cargo, specially designed container ships for carrying different categories of containers operate.
- The cargo handling equipment on a liner will be varied and sophisticated for quick loading and unloading of cargo to ensure a quick turnaround. A quick turnaround means that the ship spends the least possible time in the port and most of its time in transit.
- Liner ships frequently operate between fixed ports and normally loads in several ports. It serves a number of discharging ports along a pre-determined route.
- In order to ensure speedier carriage, liner ship is fitted with sophisticated and expensive propelling machinery.
- Liner shipping service provides pre-announced scheduled services on given terms and conditions of carriage. These conditions in the receipt mostly relate to the responsibilities and liabilities of the shipowners, carriage, and delivery of cargo.
- Liner shipping generally offers carriage on fixed and stable freight rates.
A Tramp Service or tramper, on the other hand, is a ship that has no fixed routing or itinerary or schedule and is available at short notice (or fixture) to load any cargo from any port to any port.
The tramp carrier has the following characteristics features:
- Tramp carrier is primarily designed to carry the more simple and homogeneous cargo in huge quantity. It is, therefore, designed to completely utilize its carrying capacity for carriage of one type of cargo.
- Since one kind of homogeneous cargo is to be handled, a tramp will have the comparatively simple equipment. Bulk cargos are normally loaded and discharged by mechanical equipment, elevators, pumps, etc.
- Because of the comparatively low unit value of commodities carried, a tramp will be operated at the lowest possible cost. This objective can be achieved by operating ships having relatively less speed by fitting less expensive propelling machinery.
- A tramp generally carries cargos of one or two ship users. Hence, loading and discharging are confined to a few ports.
- Tramp carriers do not have a fixed route and predetermined schedule of departure as it is to be engaged by one/two users as and when their need arises.
- Tramp carrier offers services at terms and conditions, including freight/hire charges, which are not fixed and given but are negotiable.
Example : A ship that arrives at Durban from Korea to discharge cargo might carry some other cargo from Durban to the Oakland in the West Coast of USA which is in an entirely different direction.. From Oakland, it could carry some cargo to Bremerhaven.
One of the main differences between Liner and Tramp would be in the type of contract of carriage and Bill of Lading used..
In the case of a Liner, generally the shipping line operating the liner service will have their own pre-printed bill of lading or use a BIMCO ConLineBill, whereas in the case of a Tramp service (which may be covered by a Charter Party), a bill of lading like the BIMCO ConGenBill will be used depending on the cargo, charter party etc.