Growing our Inland Waterways

Utilising water freight today allows companies to have a system in place to prevent adverse consequences if any future issues should make traditional networks less viable.

Friday 06 April 2018

Utilising water freight today allows companies to have a system in place to prevent adverse consequences if future issues should make traditional networks less viable. Britain’s canals and rivers should be playing a bigger role in our freight network, but changes in local and central Government policy and planning approaches are needed to make this happen. Making use of water freight now allows companies to have a system in place to prevent adverse consequences if future changes make traditional networks less viable.

Overall, the total amount of goods moved for all domestic waterborne freight increased by 16 per cent to 31.4 billion tonne kilometres (bt-k) in 2015. Goods moved by domestic water transport accounted for 15 per cent of total domestic freight traffic in the UK. However, inland waters traffic was a relatively small proportion of this and remained steady at 1.5 bt-k.

It is sensible for a company to have multiple modes available to use. For example, so that in the event of weather disruption on the road network, alternative methods of delivery are available. A spread of modes, including water freight, provides the greatest resilience for a company’s supply chain, reducing exposure to risk.

What is FTA campaigning for?

  • Protection for existing riverside and canal wharves to allow loading and unloading of goods, particularly where there is pressure for riverside development
  • More investment in canal infrastructure to enable priority freight routes to grow 
  • Better water freight coordination across regions in the UK, and national coordination
  • Further sustainability – oil typically makes up 35 per cent of road freight costs, but only around 17 per cent of water freight costs. This means that whilst road freight costs will fluctuate substantially with changes in oil prices, water freight gives greater price stability, allowing better business planning
  • More engagement to take place with shippers to promote the benefits of water freight

Find out more

Contact Alex Veitch, Head of Global Policy at FTA