January 2022 saw the launch of Transport for the North’s consultation on their Future Freight and Logistics Strategy. All too often when contemplating how transport networks should evolve, the focus for discussion is about the movement of people.
Passenger railway improvements, upgrades to cycling networks and so on are all important. However, the movement of freight is essential to everyone, as individuals, in getting the necessary things, but it is also crucial for businesses to access supplies, to export finished products, and to grow, and create jobs. Thus, the consultation that Transport for the North are running provides an opportunity to reset how freight is thought of in the minds of decision makers.
Associated British Ports (ABP) Humber’s voice in this discussion really matters. Not only are the four ports in the Humber the biggest port complex in the UK handling 17% of the nation’s trade, but it is also a vital link in the chain of moving freight around the country. Across the Humber Ports, there are 6700 HGV movements every day, and around 150 trains every week, each moving the goods businesses and individuals need. To help shape the discussion, ABP will be responding to Transport for the North’s consultation with some key ‘asks’ that will help improve the way freights and unlock future economic growth in a sustainable way.
Those asks begin modestly. One way that ABP can make a significant contribution to decarbonising its work is to move a substantial proportion of those almost 7000 lorries onto rail. To make this cost effective, however, freight needs to be given greater priority on rail than at present. Too often freight trains are shunted into sidings to allow passenger trains to pass and an increase to rail freight priorities will help.
ABP also thinks the rail gauge clearance and electrification work planned to be completed in 2026 could be brought forward to 2024. Added to the speedy completion of the Manchester Rail Capacity study to help get more rail freight to Trafford Park, and ABP has a list of minor changes that could help.
ABP would, however, want to add in a single big ask as well – a second Humber Bridge, to the east of the ports of Immingham and Hull. The Environment Agency are currently working on proposals for a flood barrier for the Humber. ABP are asking to consider adding a road bridge over the top of that barrier. Doing so would give benefits for both the Humber region and the nation. At present, both the ports of Hull and Immingham are reliant on one road (the A63 and the A180 respectively). When something happens on those roads, vital freight can be delayed enormously. Not only does this mean people do not get goods on time, but it also makes ABP less competitive commercially in the North of England. Putting in a new crossing would reduce congestion in Hull, forge new economic ties between Grimsby and Hull, and build resilience into the road network so that traffic from the ports on both banks of the Humber have alternative routes when incidents or congestion occurs. This would speed up the movement and increase the reliability of freight and that could benefit business across the North.
Read the article online at: https://www.drybulkmagazine.com/rail-barge/09022022/associated-british-ports-make-requests-to-improve-freight-routes/