The amount of freight moved on the Thames through the capital has trebled in the last four years, reaching a new decade high in 2013. Traffic moved between terminals on the Thames rose by 62% to 5.3 million tonnes, an increase of two million tonnes on 2012. The majority of the increase was an extra 1.8 million tonnes of spoil being transported from construction projects, particularly the Crossrail scheme.

During its construction, Crossrail will move over 4.5 million tonnes of tunnelling spoil from under London to Wallasea Island, where the RSPB is creating a nature reserve.

PLA’s planning and environment director, James Trimmer, said: “Last year the Thames carried over 265,000 lorry loads of materials.

“That’s a quarter of a million lorry journeys saved – it’s good for the environment and communities, with less pollution and noise.”

The next major schemes to look to the river are the Northern Line extension at Battersea and the Thames Tideway Tunnel.


River operators are investing to meet the growing demand, with new ships, tugs and barges. In the last 18 months, Bennett’s Barges, GPS, S Walsh and Thames Shipping have collectively invested more than £15 million in their fleets.

Deputy mayor of London for transport, Isabel Dedring, commented: “The Mayor has long championed greater use of the river for both passenger and freight travel. With record numbers of passengers now travelling on the river Thames, it is fantastic that freight on the river is also at an all-time high and contributing to a reduction in congestion on our roads.”



How can you make a 286-metre, 74,000-ton, fully-laden container ship complete a three-hour, 24-mile approach and final berthing in 75 seconds?

The answer lies in modern technology, which allows us to watch and experience an enhanced video of Hamburg Süd’s Rio Blanco navigate the comparatively narrow channel from the Thames Estuary and berth at London Container Terminal.

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