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Tilbury2 at the centre of a European rail network

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Dry Bulk,

While the public gaze and political discourse has been fixed on tackling the coronavirus and preparing for Brexit, one of Britain’s major ports has launched the latest phase to its expanding footprint.

The Port of Tilbury is already the number one port in the UK across a range of cargoes – from construction materials and grain, paper to forestry products – and now it has the country’s largest unaccompanied freight ferry terminal.

On 25th May, P&O’s first vessel, Wilhemine, called at the port’s new terminal on the 160-acre extension site, Tilbury2. The first call marks the rapid transformation of the former power station and the next chapter in the decade long growth of the route to-and-from Zeebrugge. This switch to a river berth provides significant headroom for growth.

While this enhanced offering will support further growth through the Zeebrugge route and the possibility to expand into other northern European locations, it also provides a critical low carbon delivery alternative through our new rail connection.

Tens of trains a day transit across Europe to P&O’s terminal at Zeebrugge to feed their services to Britain. This pan European rail network now has a worthy UK leg.

In recent years through sustained investment, the Forth Ports Group has decided to resurrect its rail offering. At Tilbury, this has principally been through the creation of a dedicated bulk terminal for movements of aggregates, spoil and cullet glass and a domestic intermodal offering to south Wales, the North West, The Midlands and Scotland supporting the retail, e-commerce, food and drink markets.

Tilbury2 provides additional capability. The site has a rail terminal capable of loading 775m length trains for both bulk and intermodal trains. This will be integral to the business model of P&O and its customers, and Tarmac, who will occupy the northern section of the site in six months’ time.

Breakdown of supply chains, unpredictable industrial relations and increasing lorry driver shortages has led many to examine the resilience of their delivery options, particularly for vital goods like food, drink and medicines. As the closest major port to Europe’s largest consumer market, Tilbury is the logical outlet in the search for reliability and speed.

As the public demand more action to abate climate change and tackle poor air quality in urban areas, rail delivery has a key role to play. Regardless of short-term depressed consumer and business demand, the legally binding framework to tackle these important matters remains.

The pursuit of net zero carbon emissions and the enshrining of air quality targets in the Environment Bill before Parliament, combined with the UK’s leading global role at the UN’s COP26 summit in Glasgow in November, will only heighten pressure on supply chains to find lower impact solutions.

Truly multi-modal delivery solutions – road, rail and barge – are key ingredients when examining the best way to deliver change throughout supply chains.

Forth Ports Group’s 25 year vision for Tilbury2 commits the port to play a central role in supporting the country’s efforts to achieve net zero through providing genuine multi-modal capability from the outset.

In keeping with the rest of the Port of Tilbury site, the Tilbury2 terminal holds Authorised Economic Operator trusted trader status and will have access to all the border inspection facilities required for additional customs and border checks should they be required.

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