The only way really is Essex for multimodal sea freight


All eyes in the ocean freight sector of the transport and logistics community are on Essex at the moment with the continued development at DP World’s London Gateway River Thames well under way.

In addition, neighbouring Port of Tilbury received a boost last month when it announced jointly with the Port of Bilbao that it has been awarded a ‘Motorways of the Sea’ grant by the European Commission for the IBUK, Intermodal Corridor project.

The two ports have been working closely together since 2011 to submit a funding application to the EU for the grant, with the aim of reducing congestion between the Iberian Peninsula and the UK by removing trucks from the roads of Western and Southern Europe and onto a more efficient multimodal logistics corridor.

The application also involves the development of short sea shipping between Spain and Britain and the increased efficiency and volume of freight from the Iberian Peninsula to the UK.

Recent reports have estimated that over 225 million kilometers will be removed from road to short sea over a period of fifteen years. The intention is to eliminate existing bottlenecks within the current road freight route between Spain and the UK.

The total cost of the project is believed to be in the region of €31.2 million, of which funding is being granted of approximately €7.3 million between Tilbury and Bilbao.

Tilbury will get an estimated total of €4,266,280 in grant funding. The Motorways of the Sea programme is financially managed by the TEN-T Executive Agency which has also provided £12.7 million in funding for the dredging to ensure deepwater channels in the Thames for the DP World project and the latest project must be completed by the end of 2014 to qualify for the full funding.

The Chief Operating Officer of Forth Ports, owners of the Port of Tilbury, Perry Glading, said,

“We are delighted the Port of Tilbury has been awarded this important funding. This recognizes the growing importance of developing Motorways of the Sea connections between the Iberian Peninsula and the UK. This substantial award will see further development of our short sea container operations within London Container Terminal over the next 2 years as well as achieving a modal shift from road to sea and improving overall efficiencies in the supply chains between the two countries.”

The Port of Tilbury is the first port to be successful in securing this grant funding in the UK. The grant will see major investment at both Tilbury and Bilbao. The grant will allow container terminal redevelopment, at Tilbury, including new cranes, straddle carriers, a new bespoke IT system and surfacing work.

In Bilbao, the funding will be used for a rail head expansion connecting an inland rail terminal, 120km from the port, allowing the transfer of cargo to the Port, and investment in new IT systems.

The two ports will jointly develop the IT systems that will allow for advanced transfer of information between the two ports and parties interested in the transfer of the cargo between the two ports.

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