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New €280 million UK freight ferry terminal begins operations

An aerial view of Tilbury docks
An aerial view of Tilbury docks
Tilbury’s new unaccompanied freight ferry terminal opened for business at a vital time for the UK’s heavy goods industry.
The 500,000-unit freight-only facility will inject state-of-the-art capacity into the country’s ports sector by utilising a truck driver-free operation at a time when infection control is uppermost in everyone’s minds.
After a year of construction, led by construction giants GRAHAM, the country’s newest and largest unaccompanied freight roll on/roll off terminal, located at the edge of London, will operate in exclusive partnership with P&O Ferries.
The bespoke terminal will import and export trailers and containers with vital supplies for the UK, including food, drink and medicines to and from continental Europe on P&O’s busy Tilbury-Zeebrugge freight route.
The new ro-ro terminal is part of a £250 million (€280 million) investment by owner, Forth Ports. The marine works for the new ro-ro terminal were completed in April and successful ship trials were carried out on 17 May.
Charles Hammond, group CEO of Forth Ports, said: “This is an important time for the UK as we emerge from the lockdown. Our new freight terminal is the country’s most modern ferry port offering a seamless and lower carbon route to the biggest consumer market in Europe, Greater London.
“Despite the current challenges we have delivered a resilient terminal with significant headroom to grow as we pursue our vision of being the nation’s strategic freight gateway to-and-from Europe. We believe that this terminal opening is a symbol of hope for economic recovery.”
Maritime Minister Kelly Tolhurst added: “Barely a year since getting the green light from my Department, the opening of the Tilbury2 unaccompanied ferry terminal really is a landmark moment for this major infrastructure project. It is a great testimony to all those who worked on the build that it has been finished and opened, despite the current challenges facing the maritime sector. The new terminal will provide more capacity and jobs at a vital time, when our world-leading ports will be at the forefront of the UK’s economic recovery.”
Tilbury2 received development consent from the Secretary of State for Transport in February 2019 to build Tilbury2 – the new multimillion-pound port terminal adjacent to the current 930-acre site in Thurrock, on the outskirts of Greater London.
The project is central to the Port of Tilbury’s £1 billion investment programme during 2012-20, which has seen it double the size of its business in the past 10 years and is projected to double the volume of cargo across the quay (from 16 million to 32 million tonnes) and increase direct employment from 3,500 to 12,000 jobs.
An aerial view of Tilbury docks