British waterborne domestic freight (BWDF)
: the waterborne freight alternative to road transport in the UK; and its role in sustainable mobility

  • Thomas McNamara

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Increasingly it has been recognised that there are many problems associated with the over-dependence on road haulage, and that along with the reality of congestion and gridlock on the EU road network, the external costs of road haulage in terms of the pollution roads inflict on society is now considered unsustainable in the long term. In response to this reality, both the EU and UK governments have developed policy advocating a transfer of freight from roads to the more environmentally friendly transport modes of water and rail. In essence this is an investigation and analysis of the economic, environmental and political issues which affect the diversion of freight from roads to water in the 21st century. Packer's 1994 "Roads to water" study examined the prospect of the viability of a significant modal switch from roads to water and highlighted a number of issues which he felt would adversely affect modal transfer. This thesis tests a number of these conclusions to see if they are still a barrier to conversion in 2004 as Packer suggested they were ten years earlier. This is achieved by the analysis of six different case studies, where it is felt that the traditional road haulage element could be transferred to water transport. An analysis of the pollution and external costs imposed on society by the road haulage element within these studies has been compared to an alternative BWDF option, and the results clearly show that water, in every case is considerably more environmentally friendly than road. In addition to this, the research has established a number of other results pertaining to these studies. These include the comparison of the operation costs of both modes, the number of LGV kilometres eradicated by the modal transfer and the reduction of fuel used. The conclusion of this analysis is that, in one year, 33,594 long distance road haulage journeys could be eradicated from UK roads. It also concluded that the distance generated by long distance road haulage would reduce from 6,084,091 kms to 422,837 kms local (short distance) haulage, a reduction of 5,661,254 kms. In addition, 2,055 tonnes of fuel would be reduced to 139 tonnes saving 1,916 tonnes per annum, and road haulage pollution would fall from 9,051 tonnes per annum to 630 tonnes eradicating 8,421 tonnes of land based pollution. In terms of external costs it also concluded that the external costs imposed on society would reduce by \pounds751,520 per annum.
Date of Award2005
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Nottingham Trent University

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