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Freight considerations for new Thames Tunnel
Highways England is being urged to consider the haulage industry in plans for a new tunnel under the Thames river to the east of London.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says that a planned new tunnel under the Thames must have a robust system in place for handling commercial vehicles in order to keep freight traffic flowing.
The statement made by the FTA was in response to a consultation which Highways England has launched on its favoured route for the Lower Thames Crossing linking Junction 1 of the M2 with the M25 motorway. A tunnel rather than a bridge is recommended from the river east of Gravesend to Tilbury to the east of London.
Recognising the reduced environmental impact of a tunnel over the use of a bridge, the FTA nonetheless believes that such a crossing has specific challenges for the haulage industry, as explained by the organisation’s Malcolm Bingham: “The current Dartford tunnels create delays for everyone when vehicles with dangerous goods or height and width issues pass through, as they either have to wait to be escorted or ensure they are in the correct approaching lane due to the tunnel’s limitations.”
To prevent a repeat of these problems, the FTA is proposing that the designers factor in adequate safety systems to enable the free flow of vehicles through the tunnel without having to stop.
Consultation on a third river crossing began in May 2013 when three options were announced. These were reduced to two in December 2013 and now Highways England has rejected the route close to the existing Dartford Crossing in favour of connecting Junction 1 of the M2 with the M25.
“This was the route favoured by our members when we consulted with them, and we will be having further discussions in the future on the details of this latest proposal. The FTA will submit a response from its members and urges the Government to press ahead with this much-needed scheme to increase capacity and resilience and reduce congestion at the existing river crossings,” Malcolm Bingham concluded.