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Windows migration strands U.K. shipping

U.K. ports slid towards chaos last week as a major electronic customs clearance system tried to migrate from its mainframe to a Microsoft Windows-based system. Community Network Services announced Monday that it had reverted to its mainframe system and that queues were at their normal status.

But last week, the gradual degradation of the new system forced freight forwarders and customs agents to revert to manual processing at the English ports of Southampton and Tilbury. Containers were stuck at berths waiting for clearance. Courier operations at Heathrow, Stansted and East Midlands airports were also affected. CNS staff worked over the weekend to have the mainframe and its network up and running and to clear backlogs. The company handles about 35 percent of U.K. imports and exports over a nationwide network and is a subsidiary of Southampton Container Terminals.'s Ron Coates reported from London.