The construction of Crossrail has helped boost the amount of freight being shipped on the Tideway through London to the highest for a decade.

Freight moved on the Thames through the capital has trebled in the last four years, according to the figures for 2013 released by the Port of London Authority (PLA).

During Crossrail's construction more than 4.5 million tonnes of tunnelling spoil is being transported from London to Wallasea Island, where the RSPB is creating a nature reserve.

Total freight between terminals on the Thames rose by 62% to 5.3 million tonnes, an increase of 2 million tonnes on 2012. 

PLA’s director of planning and environment James Trimmer said:“Last year the Thames carried over 265,000 lorry loads of materials.  That’s a quarter of a million lorry journeys saved – it’s good for the environment and communities, with less pollution and noise.” 

Thames Water has moved more than one million tonnes of materials on the Thames for its Lee Tunnel scheme. During the year 65,000 tonnes of scrap was also shipped on the Thames from Erith to Tilbury.

This month Battersea Power Station started using the Thames to remove excavated material from the development site in barges carrying 1,000-tonne loads every trip.

The next major schemes to look to the river are the Northern Line extension at Battersea and the Thames Tideway Tunnel. 

River operators are investing to meet the growing demand, with new ships, tugs and barges.  In the last eighteen months, Bennett’s Barges, GPS, S Walsh and Thames Shipping have collectively invested more than £15 million in their fleets.

Deputy mayor of London for transport, Isabel Dedring, commented:“The Mayor has long championed greater use of the river for both passenger and freight travel. With record numbers of passengers now travelling on the river Thames, it is fantastic that freight on the river is also at an all-time high and contributing to a reduction in congestion on our roads.”

The PLA is a member of the River Concordat Steering Group which is working to deliver the Mayor’s River Action Plan and increase the number of passenger journeys on the Thames to 12 million a year by 2020. The river is home to the second biggest port in the UK and is the busiest inland waterway.

Story dated March 27th 2014

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