Category Archives: Canal freight

Solihull, Leeds and Manchester aim to reduce air pollution and ease traffic congestion

Employees at Blythe Valley Park in Solihull can now use a free shuttle bus from Solihull and Birmingham International to and around this business park. The colourful, eye-catching shuttle bus service is operated by Solihull-based transport service provider LandFlight, formerly known as Silverline. It runs 16 daily shuttles, each accommodating up to 60 people, between the park and the two rail stations.

Deborah Fennell, park manager at Blythe Valley Park, said: “This bus service not only helps us reduce our collective carbon footprint but also ensures that parking demands continue to be met without impacting on the space and facilities we can offer businesses. By providing complimentary and convenient connections between the park and nearby rail stations, we encourage visitors and employees at the park to use public transport for their commute.”

The owners of the park, IM Properties, introduced this service to encourage park employees to commute via public transport. Approximately 2,700 people working for the park’s 24 companies and more will come on as site continues to develop.

Water taxi used in Leeds, advocated for use between Icknield Port and congested, polluted Birmingham city centre:

Canal or riverside business and industrial parks are able to take another measure to reduce air pollution and ease traffic congestion by extending the use of water buses for passengers, already operating in a number of cities (above), and larger vessels for bulky freight (below).

In Trafford Park which has transport links by road, rail, water and air, businessman Graham Dixon advocates using Manchester’s waterways rather than clogging up the road network with cargo. He has welcomed the first arrival – a 2300 tonne ship, RMS Duisburg, which brought two large silos from Germany, bound for a Manchester factory.

Dixon’s ultimate vision is for Esprit’s Trafford Docks which he has re-opened and refitted, to be busy once again, bringing bulk goods such as road salt, aggregates, grain and biomass via the Manchester Ship Canal into Manchester. This would remove many lorries from the surrounding roads, reducing congestion and pollution.

As he said: “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.”

 

 

Using our waterways reduces road congestion, fuel consumption and air pollution

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.”  

graham-dixonFor 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.

rms-duisberg

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.

silo2

“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.)

 

 

 

 

 

LLECP ‘strongly encourages’ developers to transport materials by rail or waterway

 londonlecp header

The London Low Emission Construction Partnership (LLECP) is a project funded by the Mayor of London and Transport for London as part of the Mayors Air Quality Fund. 

LLECP is a partnership between the ‘Cleaner Air Boroughs of Camden, King’s College London, Hammersmith, Fulham, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Wandsworth and industry partners across the demolition and construction sectors.

In 2015, Air Quality News reported that the LLECP website, aimed at helping the construction industry to understand its impact on air quality and encourage pollution reduction measures, had been launched by King’s College London.

The site notes that as emissions from road vehicles can significantly add to levels of local air pollution, developers with construction sites close to waterways or railways are strongly encouraged to assess the viability and feasibility for construction materials to be delivered or removed by these means, rather than by road. The benefit of this is the reduction in the number of trips made by HGVs on local roads, reducing local emissions. Even modern diesel or petrol powered plant items emit higher levels of PM and NOx than electric equivalents. Therefore, wherever possible, renewable, mains or battery powered plant items should be used.

Reducing emissions from vehicles transporting construction materials

Science Daily says (drawing on material from the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology) that one of the most efficient means of transporting freight is by water. It points out, however, that many vessels sailing today are powered by aging diesel motors fitted with neither exhaust cleaning equipment nor modern control systems.

ross barlow city backgroundThe converted hydrogen-fuelled barge “Ross Barlow” with the Empa-developed hydride storage tank.Credit: Image courtesy of Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA).

The EMPA report describes the University of Birmingham’s ‘ambitious trial’, converting a canal barge to be the first in the world to use hydrogen fuel.

In 2010 the converted boat, the “Ross Barlow,” made its longest voyage to date, of four days duration and 105 km length, negotiating no less than 58 locks.

The boat holds its hydrogen in powder form – metal hydride – which could offer a safer and cheaper use of hydrogen.

Cenex, the UK’s Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell technologies, supports the early market development for low carbon vehicles including electric, hybrid, bio-methane and hydrogen powered vehicles. Cenex also works with clients to increase the use of alternative fuels in the UK through the addition of infrastructure including electric vehicle charge points, gas and hydrogen stations.

Will Cenex extend its remit to increase the use of alternative fuels on vessels sailing on our rivers and waterways?

 

 

Promoting a cleaner environment: water transport

Why get stuck in a traffic jam and miss delivery deadlines? Cut costs, cut emissions and cut fuel consumption and deliver on time on the waterways. This was one of the themes at the Commercial Boat Operators Association’s AGM at Digbeth’s Bond Warehouse. The full report may be seen here.

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CBOA is a trade organisation which aims to sustain and increase freight carriage on our waterways. Advantages are economies of scale and fuel efficiency, decongested roads, fewer fatalities and injuries and higher energy efficiency, producing less air pollution with lower emissions. Large loads are taken off the roads: from aggregates down the Severn, grain down the Mersey and a ‘serious enquiry’ about carrying sludge and biomass along the Leeds and Liverpool canal. CRT news reports that last June a 270 tonne electricity transformer (weighing as much as 18 doubledecker buses) was delivered to Hull and transported on the River Trent to Staythorpe Power Station.

Peter MathewsThe writer had an informal exchange with Peter Mathews, the chairman of the West Midlands Canals and Rivers Trust. As he said he was keen to make links with local universities he was given three leaflets passed on by Birmingham’s Professor Rex Harris, who has worked with a team to convert a barge to run on hydrogen fuel. Ian Lane, Waterways manager (WMCRT), came for the last hour only, but whilst walking back to city with him it emerged that both have many creative ideas – some centring on the new Icknield Port development.

There were three invited speakers:

The first speaker was Antoon van Coillie of Blue Line Logistics, Belgium. This dynamic entrepreneur said that in due course his company’s barges will transfer to hydrogen fuel. An umbrella organisation, Inland Navigation Europe, promotes waterway transport in Europe: “After all, why get stuck in a traffic jam and miss deadlines when you can cut costs and deliver on time on the waterways? Increased waterway traffic is so important because it is not only cost-effective, it also makes for a more sustainable transport network. INE strongly believes in the innovation power of waterway transport, both in terms of organisation and technology: “On new ships, air emissions such as NOx and PM are also radically decreased. The same development is expected soon for existing vessels . . . Next to optimized propulsion and dual fuel LNG vessels, we see the first vessels emerging that run on hydrogen and electricity”.

cboa greenstream100% LNG driven ship, emission reduction 80% Nox, 100% SO2, 99% PM10, 25% CO2, 18% energy savings

The second speaker was Dr Tom Cherrett, University of Southampton, who described plans to set up a floating depot (dummy barge) like those in Amsterdam. A floating depot will be used by TNT for collecting and delivering parcels in the city centre.

floating depot amsterdamIt will be moved by boat using the canal network and small electric vehicles will undertake the last-mile deliveries. Dr Cherrett is one year into a three-year project for the floating depot which is designed to reduce the impact of freight and service trips. 24 partners are on board.

“We see the first vessels emerging that run on hydrogen and electricity”

The third speaker Steven R. Mears, is a senior naval architect with Keel Marine Ltd, which designs all types of craft and trades worldwide. They are moving towards designing hybrid power systems which offer motors/generators running at optimum efficiency/emissions. This provoked quite sharp questioning from two audience members as to why they were not ‘going for hydrogen’. Mr Mears sees the adoption of hydrogen fuel cell as being ‘some way off yet from being low cost and readily available’, adding that ‘LNG and hydrogen means the tanks take up lot of space’.

Those who support the use of the cleanest form of fuel should note Professor Rex Harris’* point that hydrogen tanks take up the space usually given to ballast – and he lists other advantages here:

hydrogen 32fuel future graphic

A small team set up the Protium project which applies new technologies (eg solid state hydrogen stores, permanent magnet drives) to a traditional mode of transportation, in a practical demonstration of how to redress atmospheric and fresh water pollution and resource depletion, by long term sustainable means.

Because this is an inherently efficient mode of transportation, the use of hydrogen in this context is expected to become commercially viable at a much earlier stage than in automotive applications.

*Professor Rex Harris, Department of Metallurgy and Materials, University of Birmingham. I.R.Harris@bham.ac.uk Web page: www.hydrogen.bham.ac.uk

 

 

Congratulations to London’s River Concordat, the Mayor and his Ambassador for River Transport

Clean air is one of the essential requirements of a civilised society. Greater use of waterborne transport is an innovation of benefit to the environment, preserving and returning to use the waterways

a barge carrying biomass

a barge carrying biomass

A brief overview of the environmental and economic benefits of waterborne transport follows. Goods arrive as and when they are wanted – and a 500 tonne load saves 25 lorry trips. David Lowe of the Commercial Boat Operators Association writes that water freight produces just 20% of the greenhouse gases emitted by road transport. The biggest commercial advantages are the savings in fuel and labour. Barges use fuel more efficiently because there is less friction to overcome – and can use as little as one-quarter of the fuel of lorries, leaving a significantly reduced carbon footprint. The Freight Transport Association estimates that fuel accounts for 40% of the costs associated with truck transport but only 20% for water transport systems. Lowe points out that one or two men working a barge can move more product than one or two men driving a truck.

canal freight flyerThe CBOA advocates a reduction in costs, road congestion and air pollution by removing heavy freight from lorries to barges where there are suitable routes – and Professor Harris’ Protium project goes further, environmentally speaking, having designed a prototype hydrogen-fuelled barge. Read more here.

There has been news of increased freight shipping activity on the Thames where vessels are transporting a total of five million tons of earth excavated from Crossrail’s tunnels downstream to Kent and Essex. The increase in commercial traffic has led to the expansion of London Gateway port.

The latest figures from Transport for London show increased passenger activity on the Thames, a tidal river. The River Action Plan, launched last year, described measures designed to increase the number of river passengers to 12 million by 2020; last year they had already increased to 8.5 million – significant growth in both River Bus and River Tours services.  The Putney to Blackfriars River Bus service has seen a 130% increase in passenger numbers since its re-launch in April and two more morning and three evening sailings have been introduced.

river thames news headerLondon River Services is responsible for managing eight piers on the river: Westminster, Festival, Embankment, Millbank, Blackfriars, Bankside, Tower and Greenwich. To ensure that continued growth in demand is matched by pier capacity, work is being progressed to extend Bankside, Embankment and Westminster by 2015 and are building new piers at Battersea Power Station and Plantation Wharf. Plans for piers at Convoys Wharf in Deptford, Enderby Wharf in Greenwich and the western side of North Greenwich Peninsula are also underway.

River Tours have seen growth of approximately 20% in journeys on the Thames during 2013/14. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, brought together over 40 organisations to form a River Concordat in 2009 and appointed Richard Tracey AM as the Mayor’s Ambassador for River Transport, charged with boosting its growth. He said: `We are looking to the future with plans to build further new piers and to expand existing facilities, remaining on course to reach 12 million passengers travelling on the Thames by 2020.’

Air pollution addressed by NGOs, Mayor, University, Met Office, EU & WHO

 

NOX emissions ukAround 29,000 people die prematurely each year in the UK because of air pollution, according to Public Health England. The New York Times reported the World Health Organisation’s finding that exposure to fine airborne particles is estimated to have contributed to illness, including cardiovascular disease and lung cancer leading to 3.2 million premature deaths worldwide. In Western cities the causes include road transport, domestic and commercial heating systems and industry. The Supreme Court has ordered the UK government to make plans for tackling air pollution, which is linked to thousands of premature deaths each year. It is reported that London and several other British cities have failed to meet EU standards on nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels since 2010, though they have fallen since the 1970s.

Movement for change

BFOE warehouseIn 2011, Birmingham council’s air quality action plan stressed the problem of nitrogen dioxide [NO2], mainly from road vehicles, highlighting a study concluding that long term exposure causes lung scarring & emphysema. For many years Birmingham FOE campaigners have said that more walking and cycling can provide a large part of the solution. Their Let’s Get Moving campaign calls on the council to invest £10 per person per year in cycling for the next 10 years to bring the city up to standard. The writer adds that there should be well-maintained, segregated cycle paths sees reference to showers as a delaying tactic; the appropriately dressed urban cyclist is cool in summer and pleasantly warm in winter.

boris santander bikeThe Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who introduced the city wide cycle scheme, now with mobile apps, called for a diesel scrappage scheme to tackle air pollution last year after researchers said Oxford Street had the highest NO2 concentrations in the world. The French government is to introduce a “super bonus” of up to €10,000 (£7,470), helping drivers to replace old diesel vehicles with a plug-in hybrid or electric model.

Thanks to the Met Office’s new forecasting system, introduced last year, the public is now being informed of serious air pollution episodes in advance. Dr Ian Mudway, lecturer in respiratory toxicology at King’s College London, noted that before this system came into force, when the air pollution maps turned red, “The BBC ran stories about the pollution in Paris and Milan, but no one thought it worthwhile to inform the British public that they were being exposed to dangerous levels of fine particulates”.

ross barlow city backgroundThe Universities Alliance reports that Coventry University spin-out company Microcab Ltd uses a new technology, combining hydrogen from the pump with oxygen from the air to create electricity to drive the electric motors in a fleet of zero emissions lightweight vehicles launched in 2012. Its fuel cell, the H2EV, can be refilled with hydrogen in minutes to run for 100 miles before needing a top up. The CBOA advocates a reduction in costs, road congestion and air pollution by removing heavy freight from lorries to barges where there are suitable routes – and Professor Harris’ Protium project goes further, environmentally speaking, having designed a prototype hydrogen-fuelled barge (above left).

Good work in generating clean power is being done by:

Electric Eigg (www.isleofeigg.net)

Dundee University (www.dundee.ac.uk)

Sustainable Energy For All (www.se4all.org)

Scottish Renewables (www.scottishrenewables.com

Further steps forward may well come from the World Health Organization, whose International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has convened an Advisory Group of epidemiologists, toxicologists, atmospheric scientists, cancer biologists and regulators to make recommendations for the development of a series of Monographs on air pollution.

Report: road freight over 300km should shift to rail or waterborne transport

1pteg header

In February, the Passenger Transport Executive Group – pteg – which brings together and promotes the interests of the six strategic transport bodies serving the largest city regions outside London, published a report: ‘Delivering the future: New approaches to urban freight’.

It highlighted the role of urban freight in the UK economy and envisaged that every opportunity should be taken for freight to make its way into urban areas by rail or water or into the distribution parks that serve them.

As the report’s main focus was on ‘last mile’ journeys, it argued that those distribution sites should be located so that goods could travel the last mile(s) into urban centres with as little environmental impact as possible using zero/low emission modes.

1domestic freight pie chart

The European Commission’s goal is that 30% of road freight over 300km should shift to other modes such as rail or waterborne transport by 2030, and more than 50% by 2050, facilitated by efficient and green freight corridors.’ The writer is particularly interested in the use of our extensive networks of inland waterways – a neglected and underused resource in comparison with other European countries where larger inland waterways are used as major freight routes as well as for making deliveries directly to city centre businesses. One of the brief case studies cited:

The city of Utrecht in the Netherlands uses a zero emission electric boat to make deliveries in the city centre. Owned and run by the city and known as the ‘Beer Boat’, the vessel makes six trips, four days a week supplying more than 60 catering businesses located along the canal network. Funding for the boat came from the city’s air quality improvement budget.

1utrecht canalside2

The advantages of water transport of freight include:

  • greater safety: a key advantage of  water freight over road freight is that it is largely separated from pedestrians, cyclists and motorists,
  • lower emissions,
  • lower fuel costs (by water),
  • less need for road and track maintenance,
  • less road traffic congestion: water freight has the potential to cut congestion. A modern barge operating on an inland waterway can carry up to 550 tonnes in some areas and up to 1,500 tonnes on larger waterways. In the UK most lorries can carry up to 29 tonnes.
  • less noise and vibration,
  • improved quality of life and urban environment.

1barge freight load

To enable more road freight to transfer onto water, ‘network capacity enhancements’ should be undertaken, including the development of a more extensive network of water-connected distribution sites, more support for ongoing maintenance of waterways and the removal of barriers (such as low bridges or narrow locks) to ensure that they can accommodate more freight traffic.

Infrastructure for the loading and unloading of waterborne freight can also be available in cities that have rivers or canals passing through them, although freight must often compete against potentially more remunerative uses for the land, such as residential and office developments.

1pteg graphic

Government, in partnership with local authorities, could work to ensure that all major new distribution parks are planned with a presumption of rail and/or water connections so that suitable sites are identified nationally and protected for freight use and the development of Urban Consolidation Centres (UCCs) with rail and water-connected distribution sites is encouraged, reducing inefficiencies and ensuring that low emission modes are a practical option for the last mile.

For more news on freight by water go to the Commercial Boat Operators Association