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News article created on 28 April 2014

Freight Advisory Group's recommendations published

Weve published a report from our Freight Advisory Group into the current and potential future role of commercial inland waterways to carry freight.

The Group recommended further investigation into ‘Priority Freight Routes’ (the designation of certain navigations in the North East that link to the Humber Estuary) where there is the opportunity for these waterways to be used for sustainable freight transport.

We welcome the Advisory Group’s recommendations and has established a director-led steering group to fully investigate the viability of the designated Priority Freight Routes, including exploring market potential with the major port operators.


This work will also involve reviewing what infrastructure work might be necessary to remove obstacles to larger barges, so enabling larger payloads and the carrying of containers. The steering group will also look at what wharf and supporting facilities may be required and what support or grants could be available including from the EU and from local enterprise partnerships. 

Whilst concentrating on the Yorkshire waterways, we will continue our support for freight on other commercial waterways at its present levels and will work with commercial firms wishing to develop new services.

A conference in late spring to launch the report and seek a range of views will be organised in Yorkshire in partnership with the Freight Transport Association, to which the Local Enterprise Partnership, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, shippers, developers, operators, customers and logistics professionals will be invited.

Freight Advisory Group

The Freight Advisory Group, chaired by David Quarmby, is made up of professionals from the waterways, transport and logistics industry. David comments: “I am pleased that our report and recommendations have been welcomed by the Trust.

“What is clear is that the circumstances of each of the Trust’s ten commercial navigations are unique and very different from each other – different in their recent history of traffic and commodities, different in their connectivity to potential markets, different in the dimensions and draughts of vessels they can take, and different in the dredging and bank protections costs of making them fit for freight.  There can be no ‘one size fits all’ approach to formulating policy for the ten waterways, or even for all sections of the same waterway."

David Lowe, chairman of the Commercial Boat Operators Association, comments: “Carrying freight by inland waterways is no longer automatically on the radar screen of shippers, logistics companies and freight forwarders, except in one or two very niche markets. 

"So exploring potential market demand is not just about analysing current freight movement by road or rail on the relevant corridors, and looking at how and where water can offer some competitive advantage; it also has to be about how to organise, modernise and present waterborne freight as a serious transport mode to a modern highly commercial logistics industry. I’m pleased that the formation of a steering group will take this forward.”

Download the full report