The importance of inland connectivity
The UK Department for Transport published a major new report on 24 April 2018 on the connectivity between English ports and their hinterlands entitled Transport Infrastructure for our global future: A study of England’s port connectivity. The report stresses the fundamental importance of ports in facilitating the UK’s trade with the rest of the world and the need for improved “cross-modal freight data, delivering robust modelling of improved connectivity and detailed trade corridor analysis” to develop an evidence base on port freight traffic movements. As a contribution to this evidence base, we have produced two maps that use baseline data from the GB Freight Model to show the modelled flows of international freight on the British road network and the flows of intermodal/containerised rail freight on theBritish rail network.
Map 1: international road freight flows in tonnes
Map 1 shows how international road freight is focused particularly on flows to and from:
- Cross-Channel ro-ro ports with services to France such as Dover and Portsmouth, as well the Channel Tunnel freight shuttle terminal near Folkestone;
- East coast ro-ro ports on the Thames, Harwich Haven, the Humber, the Tyne and the Tees offering services to the Near Continent and Scandinavia;
- West coast ro-ro ports providing services to Ireland such as Liverpool, Holyhead and Cairnryan;
- Deep sea container ports, principally Felixstowe, Southampton, London Gateway, Tilbury and Liverpool.
The highest concentrations of international road freight are on the Strategic Road Network, linking the ports to the major concentrations of distribution centres and the major conurbations, with the highest volumes found on the M20/M25/M1/M6 corridor between the Channel ports and the North West of England via the West Midlands.
Map 2: Intermodal rail freight flows in tonnes
Map 2 shows how intermodal rail freight services are focused on lines to and from the largest deep sea container ports of Felixstowe and Southampton, mainly to access the West Coast Main Line between London and Glasgow via Birmingham and the North West.
Changing trading patterns, particularly due to the potential impact of Brexit, may affect this distribution of flows to some extent, but the maps help to clarify the key corridors for freight that are most likely to require investment and maintain the efficiency of international supply chains via British ports.