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Thames Inland Freight tops two million tonnes


Inland freight on the ThamesThames Inland freight tops two million tonnes

  • Busiest inland waterway in the UK

  • Tonnage set to triple in next five years

New Department for Transport (DfT) figures confirm that the River Thames continues to be the UK's busiest inland waterway, handling more than two million tonnes of cargo.  The Port of London Authority says with major new projects starting this is set to triple in just five years.

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's congested roads.  Now, with new projects including Crossrail 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.

PLA 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."

Working closely with the Mayor of London, the PLA has helped to protect wharves along the river for cargo handling, several of which are now being brought back into use for these major projects.  The PLA has also helped match companies interested in using the river with barge and wharf operators who can handle the trade.

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.

About the PLA

  • The Port of London Authority (PLA) is responsible for navigational safety and related matters on 95 miles of the tidal Thames from the sea to Teddington in west London.
  • The PLA provides navigational, pilotage and other services for users of the Thames
  • The Port comprises over 70 independently owned and operated terminals and port facilities at different locations on the Thames. These handle a wide range of cargoes
  • London also has a busy passenger boat trade for tourists and commuters and is a popular destination for international passenger cruise ships. The tidal Thames is also used widely by those with small recreational craft of many types
  • Photos of shipping and cargo activity on the Thames are available on request