Road congestion and soaring fuel prices are leading firms to look for a cheaper, more reliable and greener freight alternative.
It has been reported that waterways in the north-west are undergoing a “renaissance”. Road congestion and soaring fuel prices have left firms looking for a cheaper, more reliable and greener alternative. The BBC article drew on information from the Freight Transport Association, a trade association representing the interests of companies moving goods by canal, rail, road, sea and air.
It noted that Peel Ports, which owns the Port of Liverpool and Manchester Ship Canal, is investing in increased capacity.
Work has started on dredging and deepening the River Mersey to allow the new generation of cargo ships to dock at the planned Liverpool 2 terminal.
Saving money, good for the environment and the economy
Currently only London Gateway and Felixstowe are large enough to house these ships, so goods travel hundreds of miles north by road. Peel Ports predicts that enabling them to sail directly into Liverpool, bypassing congested roads, will boost the north-west economy by billions each year. Businesses are already realising that they could make savings on fuel and carbon footprint; the extra four or five days on the water – additional cost for ocean freight – is offset by only 20 miles haulage, saving 90% on road transport.
Canal shuttles carry 250 containers, potentially 250 less lorries clogging up the roads, and a larger canal transporter is now moving 2,000 containers at a time.
The number of containers being shipped via the northern canals increased from 3,000 in 2009, to about 25,000 this year, and Peel hopes that will rise to 100,000 by 2030.
Gary Hodgson, managing director of Peel Ports Mersey, said that planned investment would result in “huge savings in cost, carbon and congestion for the UK”.
The next stage involves creating a hub at a new project, Port Salford – adjacent to the Manchester Ship Canal – with warehousing and a linked-in road development scheme. New ports will also be built at Wirral, Ince, Bridgewater and Warrington.
Hodgson added: “It’s a catalyst for change for the port. Once we link that with investments we’re making in Manchester Ship Canal, that will allow shippers to move cargo from the Far East through Liverpool 40 miles inland towards Manchester into warehouses without touching a single mile of UK roads.” The terminal on the River Mersey, called Liverpool 2, is due to open in 2015.
The Irlam Container Terminal 27 miles up the Ship Canal on the ‘green highway’; which links Liverpool and Manchester, has now been further supported by a new state-of-the-art operating system; TERMINUS, developed by Peel Ports’ in-house IT team, employs ‘cutting edge’ IT and operating systems across the Port of Liverpool and the Manchester Ship Canal.
It would be good to see an increasing number of British manufacturers and retailers sending goods to the domestic market in this way – and a transition to the use of cleaner fuels on the inland waterways.