Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Thames Inland Freight Tops Two Million Tonnes

Tonnage Forecast to Triple in Next Five Years
Shipping News Feature

UK – Figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) show that over two million tonnes of freight were handled on the river in 2008, making the Thames the UK’s busiest inland waterway. In addition, the Port of London Authority (PLA) predicts that with several massive new construction projects beginning in the New Year this figure is expected to triple over the next five years.

According to the PLA the 2.18 million tonnes of materials moved on the river in 2008 helped keep more than 175,000 lorry movements off the south east of England’s congested roads. With new projects including the Crossrail project, the Olympics and the Thames Tideway Tunnels set to make extensive use of the river for their construction needs, up to six million tonnes of materials will be transported on the river every year, saving almost half a million lorry movements a year.

The PLA’s head of planning and partnerships, Jim Trimmer said:

“Over the last few years the use of the river for moving goods and materials within Greater London has grown substantially. The work we've done to support this growth is now starting to bear fruit with materials from Crossrail already on the river and Thames Water tonnages set to join them next year.”

The growth in the use of Thames is a product of the PLA’s efforts, in conjunction with the Mayor of London’s office, to protect wharves along the river for cargo handling, several of which are now being brought back into use for these major projects.

Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London's transport advisor, said: “The Thames is potentially one of London's greatest resources, and the Mayor is determined to maximise our use of it. With Crossrail we will be using barges rather than roads to move millions of tonnes of excavated earth, reducing the need for lorry fleets disrupting the city.

“With all of the key partners now working together, we are progressing swiftly, and making the Thames more accessible and attractive to commuters, visitors, businesses, and the freight industry alike.”

The DfT figures show that the Thames handled well in excess of half of all the goods and materials moved on rivers and canals in the UK during 2008. The materials moved include sand, gravel and cement for construction sites and waste materials much of which is sorted at riverside sites ready for recycling.

“What we need to do to support this growth is to rigorously continue the process of bringing safeguarded wharves back into productive use, as the Mayor's transport policy sets out,” Jim Trimmer added.

(pic: thanks to the Port of London Authority)