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Moving Merseyside Forward

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 Freight Modes

What is freight?

Freight is the physical cargo and goods that need to be moved from one location to another by various modes of transport sometimes via a number of distribution hubs or port terminals etc. Often this journey can be at a number of scales including global, national, regional and local. Freight is essential and indeed fundamental to the economy, without this the economy would seize up and the shops would be empty, restaurants / bars / cafes / hotels would be without food and drink supplies, factories unable to manufacture without raw materials, hospitals unable to function without medical supplies, and offices unable to function without stationery and other office supplies.
What is freight logistics? Freight Logistics is the global system of transport modes that is used to deliver the freight from one location to another and from origin to destination.
An origin is where the freight starts and this in a UK context can be a port of entry (imported goods such as cars, raw materials, containers etc), or a quarry or mine (source of raw materials), factory (manufacturing finished products), distribution hub (switching between modes) etc.

A destination is where the freight is going to and this can be a port of export (exporting goods such as cars, containers, etc) or a distribution hub (switching between modes), or a factory (receiving raw materials, car parts etc), or an end destination such as local businesses for example.

Freight can be transported by various modes of transport and often several modes may be used in a journey from origin to destination. Which modes are used can depend on a  number of factors such as availability (is there a suitable rail terminal?), cost (what mode is most cost effective), time (is there a limited time available for delivery of the goods due to perishable goods or just in time delivery) etc.

This section highlights the transport modes that can be used in freight logistics to deliver freight / cargo / goods from their origin to their destination.

Water Transport:

This freight mode consists of deep sea, coastal and short sea shipping as well as inland waterways such as the Manchester Ship Canal.
More freight moves by sea than any other mode of transport especially by deep sea container ships for example. Indeed water freight is at the core of our modern economy. 95% of goods entering or exiting this country do so by sea. The long distance deep sea connections to the rest of the world underpin our quality of life and ability to trade with the world.

But for an island nation, the UK under-uses short-sea, coastal and inland waterway freight services to a surprising extent, yet there are significant opportunities for cost efficiencies and environmental savings to be gained from using water transport. Water freight can play an effective and reliable role in supply chain operations of all kinds. Water freight services are provided by numerous companies all around the coast of the UK. They operate on a port-to-port basis or as one part of a full end-to-end supply chain service. The Department for Transport also continues to support some flows through grant schemes.

This report by Maritime UK and the UK Chamber of Shipping highlights the importance of the maritime sector for the UK economy.

Maritime UK and the UK Government have also published a promotional brochure "Open for Maritime Business" (Sep 2013) highlighting the importance of the maritme sector for the UK economy.
In 2014, Maritime UK and the UK Government published "Open for Maritime Skills" (Nov 2014) highlighting the importance of the maritime sector and its skills.
 In 2015, Maritime UK and the UK Government published "Our Maritime Nation - Achievements and Challenges" (March 2015) highlighting the importance of the maritime sector.
In September 2015 the maritime industry and UK Government published the "Maritime Growth Study - Keeping the UK competitive in a global market".
In 2017 the maritime industry and UK Government published "The UK is a World Class Maritime Centre" booklet showcasing the UK's maritime sector. Click here.
The River Mersey is a major maritime hub with the Port of Liverpool, Garston Docks and the Manchester Ship Canal. The Port of Liverpool is served by deep sea shipping services from around the world and increasingly is becoming a short sea hub for the Irish Sea area with ro-ro ferry services to the Isle of Man, Dublin and Belfast and container feeder services to Dublin, Belfast and Glasgow and from English Channel Ports for example. Peel Ports also operate the innovative container ship service from the Port of Liverpool along the Manchester Ship Canal and they have plans to develop further port terminals along the Ship Canal to enhance this operation.

Rail Transport 

Rail freight plays a vital role in Britain’s economy. Every year it directly contributes £870 million to the economy but it supports an output of £5.9 billion, over six times its direct turnover. Rail freight transports goods worth around £30 billion annually. Rail’s environmental benefits have long been acknowledged but it is important to recognise its contribution to the economy. Rail freight helps economic growth through de-congesting the highway network and providing a productive and high performing competitive option for logistic operations in Britain.

Rail freight has traditionally been associated with the transport of heavy bulky goods and construction materials. It continues to be extremely important for these goods but its role today is much broader. More and more industries and major companies, like Jaguar Land Rover, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, are turning to rail as their first choice for transport. The automotive trains for Jaguar Land Rover and Ford in the city region are a case in point. There are also opportunities presented by the Channel Tunnel for long distance rail freight to and from the North West to Continental Europe.

Rail freight plays an important role in reducing the number of lorries and congestion on the nation’s roads. Due to the greater capability of rail, each freight train can typically replace around 50 Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs). Unlike road freight, which can often experience delays due to traffic congestion, rail provides a disciplined network in terms of planning and management with sophisticated timetabling and signalling systems designed to optimise reliability. In many instances rail can match and often beat road freight in terms of reliability. The more we can reduce congestion by shifting freight from road to rail, the better in terms of reliability for businesses and cost to the economy. Moving goods by rail is increasingly the most cost-effective way of transporting freight. Rail haulage is more fuel efficient than road haulage. Less fuel is needed to transport a tonne of goods by rail than by road, saving both money and greenhouse gas emissions.

This report by the Rail Delivery Group highlights the importance of rail freight to the UK economy and examines its future prospects.
In Feb 2015 the Rail Delivery Group published a further report "Freight Britain - Certainty and Continuity for Rail Freight".
Rail also provides solutions which are not practical by road in key specialist areas. This applies particularly where rail moves a vast bulk of material and the electricity generating industry is a case in point. Britain’s largest power stations, for example, were built around “merry go round” rail facilities so that their bulk fuel (coal or increasingly today biomass) can be delivered at a rate of millions of tonnes per year. The Port of Liverpool has such bulk flows by rail of coal and biomass fuel to power stations such as Ironbridge and Fidders Ferry for example.

Also container trains are increasingly being used to transport containers from the major deep sea container ports in the UK such as Southampton and Felixstowe to destinations inland such as Garston Freightliner Terminal and 3MG Widnes here in the Liverpool City Region. With the opening of the Liverpool 2 Container Terminal in 2015, the Port of Liverpool will soon be in a position where it is capable of serving a national catchment on the scale of Southampton and Felixstowe. So it is hoped that container trains will play an increasingly important role at the Port of Liverpool in the future.
Rail freight is a success story. It is vital to our economy and helps make Britain a better place to live. But we must continue to work with the rail industry to improve the rail infrastructure to cater for continued significant growth in rail freight. Industry forecasts suggest that freight demand will grow by 30% over the next decade – the equivalent of an additional 200 freight trains per day. Looking further into the future and analysing a range of long term economic scenarios, Network Rail has forecast that rail freight could increase by as much as 140% by 2030. Even the most conservative scenario shows rail freight growing strongly.


Pipeline Transport 

The pipeline network in the Liverpool City Region primarily serves the petrochemical industry and the Stanlow Refinery in particular. The Stanlow Refinery is of strategic importance to the petrochemical industry in the UK and has pipelines linking it to the Tranmere Oil Terminal and Eastham Oil Terminal on the River Mersey and the Amlwch Marine Terminal on Anglesey where crude oil is shipped in by tankers from overseas.
Additionally it also has pipeline networks to distribute refined fuels to Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Manchester Airport as well as the UK Oil Pipeline (UKOP) supply pipeline as far as the Thames and London's Heathrow and Gatwick Airports.

The UKOP is operated by the British Pipeline Agency (BPA). The UKOP was opened in 1969 and stretches from the Mersey down to the Thames Estuary and West London via oil terminals at Buncefield and Kingsbury with spurs to oil terminals in Northampton and Uttoxeter. (See this link for a map of the UKOP network At Buncefield and Kingsbury there are further connections with the wider pipeline network in the UK.
In addition to the oil pipelines there are also other pipelines serving the site. It is connected to the North-Western Ethylene Pipeline (NWEP) which is operated by Essar to petrochemical facilities in Runcorn, Carrington in Greater Manchester (former Shell chemical works site which closed in 2007) and Grangemouth Refinery in Scotland. (See this link for a map of the Essar pipeline network In turn the petrochemical facilities in Runcorn are also connected by the SABIC pipeline to those at Wilton in Teeside (see this link for a map of the SABIC pipeline network

Road Transport 

This freight mode centres on the Strategic Road Network in the Liverpool City Region. This network identifies those routes that play a strategic and vital role in keeping the city region moving for public transport and freight purposes. Within this network is the Strategic Freight Network which are the roads that play a strategic and vital role in the seamless movement of freight and logistics in the city region.  A free flowing road network and in particular the core Strategic Freight Network is essential to supporting the economy, and in minimising the effects of road traffic on air quality and carbon emissions.

The road network in the Liverpool City Region is managed by the highway authorities which are the six local authorities. The Mersey Tunnels are managed by Merseytravel. The trunk roads and motorways are managed by the Highways Agency.

Air Transport 

Liverpool John Lennon Airport primarily serves passenger air services at the moment and has minimal air freight operations. There are occasional "just in time" deliveries of car parts to the Jaguar Land Rover and Vauxhall Motors car plants as required. But in general the air freight business at the airport has significantly declined in recent years for a number of reasons. The freight side of the business was adversely impacted upon by the recent recession. Also there was the loss of key operators such as TNT and Royal Mail in recent years and more generally there was the changing nature of the air freight business in the UK.

But the airport does have plans to revive and expand its air freight business and the Airport Master Plan 2030 includes significant freight aspirations. The Airport Master Plan aims to increase cargo from 16,500 tonnes in 2004 to 39,900 tonnes in 2015. Without the uptake of additional land, cargo development is constrained at 40,000 tonnes per year. Beyond 2030 the master plan identifies the development of the Oglet World Cargo Centre. As the airport develops in terms of passengers and cargo, the need for new surface access infrastructure will be investigated, including for the Eastern Access Transport Corridor (EATC).


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