The service operated by official logistics partner to the Olympics, UPS, deploy ed two barges 48 x 40ft containers on its first trip shipping furniture and soft furnishings and presents a valuable exercise in how to use the Thames for sustainable aims. As the wharf is used as a huge waste disposal site it has the cargo handling equipment for loading and unloading necessary for such a service.
UPS director Alan Williams said if the project, in partnership with the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and Transport for London, is successful it is hoped that the river route will be expanded for other containerised cargo.
"The river has been largely overlooked as a logistics supply chain route for many decades and even now barges are frequently travelling up or down it without any cargo. We hope the launch will encourage other organisations to consider the benefits of reverse logistics and use the city's waterways once again," he said, cited a report from UK's Containerisation International.
The service will be operated by Bennetts Barges, started in 1983 and developed through towing and attendance contracts in the dredging and marine civil engineering sector, which transports 2,500 tons of bulk cargo a day on the River Thames.
"In theory, there is nothing to stop us setting up a container service further up river to as far as Fulham, Battersea or Wandsworth in the south-west of London," said its managing director Chris Livett. "The problem we have had in the past is that local government has been more interested in housing development than river transport. That is all changing now, however, due to increasing concerns over the environment and road traffic congestion."