Friday, February 10, 2017

Historic Dock Reopens to Freight Traffic in Heart of the North

Old Dry Dock Refurbed for Bulk Shipping
Shipping News Feature
UK – In the wake of the successful reestablishment of the historic Manchester Ship Canal as a freight carrying artery into the heart of the city another developer has just seen their investment in docking facilities start to pay off. After being closed for ten years the Trafford Park Docks has seen its first delivery following a £250,000 investment when the RMS Duisburg docked with two silos made in Germany that are to be fitted at a Manchester factory.

Esprit Warehousing & Docks has refurbished the previously derelict site over the last 2 years with the goal of bringing bulk goods such as road salt, aggregates, grain and biomass via the Manchester Ship Canal into Manchester, removing traffic from the surrounding roads and therefore reducing congestion and pollution in the city. Graham Dixon, Director at Esprit, observed:

“If one ship brings 3000 tonnes of freight up the canal, that’s over 100 lorry journeys removed from the roads, requiring only the first and the final few miles to be carried by lorry instead of potentially hundreds of miles. Businesses need to start thinking ‘can our raw materials or finished goods be transported on the canal rather than by road’?”

With the capacity of handling vessels carrying up to 4500 tonnes of bulk goods or oversized freight which is too large for normal transport by road, the Esprit Trafford Park Docks should complement the new container handling facility that Peel Port's has opened at the Port Salford which has the same goal of cutting road haulage problems. Esprit have also refurbished two warehouses on the site up to food-grade standard, so freight can be stored at the docks, inside or outside, and gradually collected over a period of time.

With road traffic at an all-time high in the UK it’s possible that Esprit might have read the future market well. They state that not only can goods be brought into Manchester, but those produced in Manchester can also now be shipped out via the Manchester Ship Canal. Equally freight doesn’t have to be international to use the canal. Esprit has recently signed an agreement with Belgian company Blue Line Logistics who operate smaller barges on inland waterways. These can be used for moving palletised goods between the many berths up and down the ship canal, utilising their on-board cranes for lifting pallets directly onto and off the quayside.

The first delivery was a great example of the philosophy and intentions of Esprit’s investment in Trafford Park Docks. The two silos were collected from Rotterdam and shipped to Trafford Park Docks where they were craned onto low loaders ready for the final four miles by road under police escort. As Dixon pointed out:

"Imagine the congestion these would have caused if they’d travelled by road from Hull or Liverpool. Freight back on the Manchester Ship Canal, surely this has to be the way forward?”

The reinvigoration of Britain’s inland waterway infrastructure is to be welcomed, we have previously focused on how Crossrail has undertaken to utilise the local canals to deal with vast amounts of excavated spoil from the project, exactly the type of bulk cargo which prompted the country’s original development of the routes.