Graham Dixon: “If one ship brings 3000 tonnes of freight up the canal, that’s over 100 lorry journeys removed from the roads, requiring only the first and the final few miles to be carried by lorry instead of potentially hundreds of miles.”
For two years Esprit Warehousing & Docks owned by Graham Dixon (left) has been refurbishing the derelict Trafford Park Docks site so that bulk goods such as road salt, aggregates, grain and biomass can be brought via the Manchester Ship Canal into Manchester, removing many lorries from the surrounding roads and reducing congestion and pollution. The Esprit Trafford Park Docks can now handle vessels carrying oversized freight which is too large for normal transport by road. Esprit have also refurbished two warehouses on the site up to food-grade standard, so that freight can be stored at the docks, inside or outside, and gradually collected over a period of time.
In January the 2300 tonne ship ‘RMS Duisburg’ arrived at Trafford Park Docks, marking its re-opening after being closed for over 10 years. It brought two large silos from Germany, bound for a factory in Manchester.
The silos were collected from Rotterdam by RMS Duisburg, shipped around the south coast of England and arrived at Esprit’s Trafford Park Docks in Manchester where two large cranes quickly transferred to low loaders ready for the final four miles by road under police escort.
“Imagine the congestion these would have caused if they’d travelled by road from Hull or Liverpool. Freight back on the Manchester Ship Canal: surely this has to be the way forward?”
Not only can goods be brought into Manchester, but those produced in Manchester can also now be shipped out via the Manchester Ship Canal. Equally freight doesn’t have to be international to use the canal. Esprit recently signed an agreement with Belgian company Blue Line Logistics who operate smaller barges on inland waterways. These can be used for moving palletised goods between the many berths up and down the ship canal, utilising their onboard cranes for lifting pallets directly onto and off the quayside.
In Belgium, many local authorities impose planning conditions requiring developers to bring their construction materials as near to the site as possible via the canals. The Manchester Ship Canal can now be used in this way, with Trafford Docks as the ideal location, leaving only the final few miles for road transport.
Graham Dixon adds: “Businesses need to start thinking ‘can our raw materials or finished goods be transported on the canal rather than by road?”
(A map showing Britain’s inland waterways and canals may be downloaded here.)