Freight News, Road

Truckers welcome Thames tunnel plan

[ January 27, 2016   //   ]

Highways England has chosen a tunnel between Tilbury and Gravesend – Option ‘C’ – as its preferred option for a new Lower Thames Crossing. It would provide a link between many of the south-east’s major ports and the rest of the country, including Dover and the Channel Tunnel and Tilbury/London Gateway. It is expected to open in about 2025.

The plan was broadly welcomed by the freight industry. Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnettt said: “Our members report that the current crossing is usually busy and frequently congested.”

Chief Executive of the Port of Dover, Tim Waggott, said: “The Lower Thames Crossing must be seen as a strategic investment to improve the resilience of UK-European trade flows.  Failure to invest will choke this crucial pan-European business corridor within which the ports of Dover, London and Medway along with Eurotunnel operate.”

Perry Glading, chief operating officer of Forth Ports (owner of the Port of Tilbury), also welcomed the plan, saying: “The UK needs to prioritise this investment to alleviate the Dartford crossing bottleneck on this vital international business corridor…National road infrastructure needs to keep pace with business infrastructure investment. In the past 10 years, business at the port has doubled and we are set to double again over the next decade.”

The Freight Transport Association sounded a note of caution over the decision to favour a tunnel rather than a bridge over the Thames Estuary. Head of road network management policy Malcolm Bingham, FTA’s, said: “We recognise that a tunnel will have less environmental impact than a bridge but it brings its own challenges for the freight industry.

“The current Dartford tunnels create delays for all when vehicles with dangerous goods or height and width issues pass through, as they either have to wait to be escorted or ensure they are in the correct approaching lane due to the tunnel’s limitations.

“We urge Highways England to ensure that construction includes putting in place safety systems to allow these vehicles to move freely through the new tunnel without having to stop.”

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