Peel Ports has for the first time commissioned a double barge service on the Manchester Ship Canal to handle growing container volumes arriving at the Port of Liverpool.
The capacity of Peel Ports' existing barge service has doubled from 160 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) to 320 TEUs a journey, achieved by tying two barges alongside each other with both then being pushed by a single tug.
The expanded barge service operates between Liverpool and Manchester, a green highway alternative to using the motorway network which will reduce traffic congestion on the M62.
Each journey equates to a saving of 180kgs of CO2 emissions, creating the potential to save an additional 2,000 tonnes C02/year.
Stephen Carr, head of business development for the Port of Liverpool and Manchester Ship Canal, said: "The Port of Liverpool has seen a significant increase in container volumes over the last few months, driven by supply chains looking for a lower cost solution to serve Northern and Central Britain. The further increase in the use of the Ship Canal demonstrates the desire of many organisations to use water to get their product as close to their customer as possible."
The growth in container volumes being handled on the Ship Canal comes from a variety of sources including: shipping lines such as Hapag Lloyd and CMA taking advantage of utilising the barge to save on road miles and reduce CO2 emissions; imports from Ireland being barged to Ellesmere Port for Quality Freight; and, continued usage from Kingsland Wine and Media City, the latter relating to stone being delivered on site for the BBC development at Media City.
Carr continued: "More than 300,000 containers per annum still travel between Southern ports and the North West of England, a number that increases to over a million road journeys per annum when the area is expanded to include the rest of Northern Britain and Ireland. From both cost and environmental angles, these numbers are simply not sustainable and cannot continue.
"That is why the continued growth of the barge service is such a positive example of the capability and potential of the Port of Liverpool and the Manchester Ship Canal and its very important benefits to businesses and the environment."
Together, the Port of Liverpool and Manchester Ship Canal offer a comprehensive range of port facilities, handling more than 40 million tonnes of cargo and 15,000 ship movements a year – making the River Mersey Britain's third busiest estuary.