8/14/12 3:45 PM

Tilbury And Bilbao ‘Seas’ The Opportunity To Reduce Road Transport Miles

Short sea connections between the UK and Iberia are set to improve over the next few years as the Port of Tilbury and the Port of Bilbao make use of a Motorways of the Sea grant by the European Commission. The grant is to support the “IBUK – Intermodal Corridor” project. The aim is to reduce congestion between the Iberian Peninsula and the UK by moving trucks off the road and onto a more efficient multi-modal logistics corridor.

The application is based on the removal of trucks from the roads off West and Southern Europe, the development of short sea shipping between Spain and the UK and the increased efficiency and volume of freight from the Iberian Peninsula to the United Kingdom. It is anticipated that over 225,000,000 km will be removed from road to short sea over a 15-year period with the aim of eliminating existing bottlenecks within the current road freight route between Spain and the UK.

The Port of Tilbury is the first port in the UK to be successful in securing this grant funding which will see major investment at both Tilbury and Bilbao. At Tilbury the grant will allow container terminal redevelopment 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, 120kms from the port, allowing the transfer of cargo to the Port, and investment in new IT systems. Jointly the ports will 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.

The estimated total cost of the project is almost €32m (approx. £25.2m) of which funding is being granted of €7.3m (approx. £5.75m) between Tilbury and Bilbao. Tilbury will get a total of €4.3m (approx. £3.36m) in grant funding.

Perry Glading, Chief Operating Officer of Forth Ports, owners of the Port of Tilbury, said: "We are delighted the Port of Tilbury has been awarded this important funding. This recognises 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."

Tilbury’s strategic location as a major shipping port servicing London and the south east of England has been a key part of the application’s success. Tilbury has been working with short sea shipping specialists MacAndrews, to develop the routes between Spain and the UK which has seen volumes growing steadily over the past 12 months. MacAndrews have now nominated Tilbury as a hub port having added Polish, Swedish and Portuguese connections to the Tilbury / Bilbao routing.

The project must be completed by the end 2014 to qualify for the full funding.

Christopher Snelling