Sometimes people ask why the Port of Liverpool isn’t linked to the rail network. Well, the good news is…it is! In fact, our rail connectivity presents us with some really exciting opportunities for unlocking value in the supply chain for our cargo-owning customers.
That’s something I’ll be talking about at the Rail Freight Group’s session at Multimodal, focussing on the investments we’ve made at the port and how these open up new opportunities for the north.
As many readers will know, we’ve made a massive commitment to funding new infrastructure in the North West. In the past few years alone, Peel Ports has created £750m worth of new assets, including the recently-opened Liverpool2 deep-sea container terminal, and the Port Salford logistics hub with its unique water-way connection via the Manchester Ship Canal.
However it is the biomass terminal at Liverpool – a £100million investment in leading-edge storage facilities, capable of handling 3million tonnes of wood pellets a year – that is most likely to pique the interest of our audience.
The reason for this is that it’s already an outstanding example of our rail strategy in action.
In transitioning from coal to sustainable biomass at its plant in Yorkshire, Drax planned to reduce its CO2 footprint by some 12m tonnes per annum, the equivalent to removing 10% of cars off of UK roads. All of the wood pellets that come through our terminal are sent to Drax via rail from Liverpool to Selby, with nothing being moved on the local road network.
Rail, for us, is a key enabler of our business strategy and our rail strategy is simple: we want all cargo journeys to be efficient, sustainable and reliable, and rail has a huge part to play in this. Indeed, it’s an approach that mirrors that of the Department for Transport and Transport for North in terms of their delivery of strategic rail.
Our commitment to rail as a major mode for cargo transport also supports the growth of the North West’s economy by improving connectivity for freight across the region and the rest of the UK.
The UK Government plans to boost economic growth across the north of England and aims to draw on the strengths of the regions, cities, towns and rural communities to drive the development of a Northern Powerhouse, creating an economic counter-balance to London and the South-east.
In June 2016, Peel Ports endorsed a call by leading think tank, IPPR North, for closer co-operation between ports, supply chain operators and logistics companies based in the north of England to nurture vital economic sectors and take advantage of global opportunities.
Responding to their wide-ranging research report ‘Gateways to the Northern Powerhouse - a Northern Port Strategy’, we advocated further investment in multimodal distribution capabilities and skills development to secure future growth for the region.
I believe that our relationship with Drax shows how this can work in practice, unlocking the potential of vital assets within the Northern Powerhouse region by helping businesses to improve the efficiency and security of their supply chain.
Of course, other modes have an equally important role to play, but for many customers, putting rail connectivity at the heart of their logistics plans could unlock real value, helping them to reduce costs, congestion and carbon emissions.
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Warren will be on Stand 6010, Hall 4 for Multimodal 2017.
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