Thursday, August 30, 2012

Only Way is Essex as Port Gets a Multimodal Boost with Short Sea Freight Grant

Anglo Spanish Logistics Trade Boost Means Less Truck Kilometres
Shipping News Feature

UK – Spain – The eyes of the ocean freight community are firmly on Essex at the moment with the ongoing development at DP World’s London Gateway River Thames container port well under way and earlier this month the neighbouring Port of Tilbury received a boost when it announced jointly with the Port of Bilbao that it has been awarded a ‘Motorways of the Sea’ grant by the European Commission for the IBUK – Intermodal Corridor project. Working closely together since 2011 to submit a funding application to the EU for the grant, the two ports aim to reduce congestion between the Iberian Peninsula and the UK by removing trucks from the roads of Western and Southern Europe and onto a more efficient multimodal logistics corridor. The application is also based on the development of short sea shipping between Spain and the Britain and the increased efficiency and volume of freight from the Iberian Peninsula to the UK.

It has been estimated that over 225 million kilometres will be removed from road to short sea over a fifteen year period with the aim of eliminating existing bottlenecks within the current road freight route between Spain and the UK. The estimated total cost of the project is nearly €31.2 million, of which funding is being granted of approximately €7.3 million between Tilbury and Bilbao. Tilbury will get an expected total of €4,266,280 in grant funding. The Motorways of the Sea programme is financially managed by the TEN-T Executive Agency (which also provided £12.7 million in funding for the dredging to ensure deepwater channels in the Thames for the DP World project) and the latest project must be completed by the end 2014 to qualify for the full funding. Perry Glading, Chief Operating Officer of Forth Ports, owners of the Port of Tilbury, said:

"We are delighted the Port of Tilbury has been awarded this important funding. This recognises the growing importance of developing Motorways of the Sea connections between the Iberian Peninsula and the UK. This substantial award will see further development of our short sea container operations within London Container Terminal over the next 2 years as well as achieving a modal shift from road to sea and improving overall efficiencies in the supply chains between the two countries."

The Port of Tilbury is the first port in the UK to be successful in securing this grant funding which will see major investment at both Tilbury and Bilbao. At Tilbury the grant will allow container terminal redevelopment including new cranes, straddle carriers, a new bespoke IT system and surfacing work. In Bilbao the funding will be used for a rail head expansion connecting an inland rail terminal, 120 kilometres from the port, allowing the transfer of cargo to the Port, and investment in new IT systems. Jointly the ports will develop the IT systems that will allow for advanced transfer of information between the two ports and parties interested in the transfer of the cargo between the two ports.

Photo: Aerial view of Tilbury Docks circa 1970 featuring the Grain Terminal