Supply chain must embrace new routes to avoid South East chaos

09 February 2022

  • Growth of new service via Medway offers proven solution to Dover Straits congestion
  • Custom clearances can be completed at sea reducing shoreside delays
  • HGV driver time freed up by not having to travel with freight.

Logistics firms should look to proven alternatives that provide a way around delays at South East ports caused by new customs procedures and the acute shortage of lorry drivers. The call comes as Westminster’s Public Accounts Committee warns in a new report that "increased costs, paperwork and border delays" are already having an impact on UK trade volumes and could get worse.

Peel Ports says that transporting non-perishable freight unaccompanied is faster and more cost effective than relying on driver-accompanied hauliers to transport cargo from Europe to the UK and vice versa. A new service it introduced with shipping line DFDS based on this model has enjoyed three-fold growth in the last year.

Although the sea-leg is longer, routing via ports such as London Medway is just as efficient as the existing options through the Dover Straits, as road miles are reduced, according to Peel Ports. These journeys also allow for clearance checks to be completed without the pressure of a 90 minute crossing increasing throughput and capacity.

Richard Goffin, Port Director at London Medway, said: “We must come to terms with the growing levels of congestion that is evidently slowing down our economy. Everyone will have seen pictures of lorries queued for many miles. This makes no sense and is a drag on our productivity that the country cannot afford, especially not now.

“We’ve become dangerously reliant on Dover and the Channel Tunnel, with 75 per cent of the trailer freight market between north-west Europe and Britain passing through this pinch point. The solution provided by DFDS is simple, effective and now clearly proven.”

Peel Ports and DFDS introduced an alternative service via London Medway around more than a year ago. The service has seen volume increases exceed market expectations and support its long term future in delivering a viable and sustainable option to historical supply chain options.

Peel Ports says this is clear evidence of growing demand for more reliable and efficient routes to market between the UK and continental Europe. 

The route expanded DFDS’ existing network of services between the UK and Europe and came in response to growing demand for unaccompanied freight services from cargo owners, hauliers and shipping lines. The freight-only ferry service connects Sheerness and Calais, offering daily sailing in each direction between the two ports on ship Maxine.