Victor: CaRT before the horse

Published: Sunday, 10 November 2019

THE latest from the 'big spenders' at Canal & River Trust is a definite 'Cart before the horse' scheme.

I expect you will have all read the latest unbelievable proposition from CaRT of a new £3.4 millions for building a freight terminal by the Aire & Calder at Leeds.

Mind you, I can understand it at Leeds, for looking back I can see there have been demands from fervent councillors to 'get lorries off the road onto the water' in the past.  These have of course come to nothing, soon discovering that no one wants the hassle of loading lorries to take to be unloaded into barges then unloaded later back on to lorries for delivery with all the delay involved.

Makes much more sense to load up and then take direct to the destination to unload. That is what motorways were built for, but perhaps they don't realise.

But the big question—how many freight companies are lined up to use this new freight terminal?  We are not told, as like all the other such schemes that have failed. it is indeed a case of putting the cart before the horse, or in this case CaRT before the horse.  For you can bet there are none contracted.

Some of the failures

keadby6So let me remind you of just a few of the failures.

It was way back in 2002 that we were told giant slow-moving loads could be taken off Yorkshire roads under ambitious plans to make greater use of Britain’s inland waterways in a project partly centred on Hull. Massive loads of up to 300 tonnes would be transported by a specially-converted barge into Leeds, Rotherham and Sheffield.

Can you see a 300 tonnes barges negotiating Keadby Lock (pictured) to get off the Trent onto the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation where the maximum lock width is only 62ft by 17ft or worse still from Rotherham to Sheffield with a maximum of just 61ft 6in  by 15ft 6in?  300 tonnes?   Be a struggle with 30 tonnes!  Silly sods, and obviously another non-starter.

trans LockingDownIt was Cemex at Gloucester that with much fanfare in 2007, announced it was transporting gravel on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal, with one load passing though a lock with the Press present, then absolutely nothing since, and the proposed terminal never being built.

One fella was given the contract to provide the transport, purchasing Transient' for the purpose, seen here passing through a lock with the one and only load.  He later sold the boat at a loss, with no recompense whatsoever.

Then in was in July 2009 that Peel Holdings of the Manchester Ship Canal announced a massive £400 millions freight terminal and cargo hub in Manchester, with the usual claim that it will create 2,000 jobs.  Alas nothing happened so the scheme was reduced from £400 millions to £138 millions, then fell though.

But there was a taker to the scheme.  Tesco, who told it would use the facility to transport its waste cardboard from what was going to be the terminal, and it didone solitary load!  Pure advertising methinks.

hargreavesThen there was another scheme to use the Trent for freight, with a terminal just below the lock off the Nottingham Canal.  It was perhaps a Newark councillor, Peter Foster, who told that lack of dredging is preventing use of transporting freight on the Trent, it not being dredged for many years, that could also have helped put a stop to that scheme, another that never materialised.

Coming back to CaRT's latest, perhaps it should take notice of Hargreaves that in those days of coal transported it along the Aire & Calder (pictured) from the mine to Ferrybridge Power Station, but found it so slow and inconvenient that it eventually used a fleet of lorries to do the job more conveniently.

There are of course others, but surely, you 'get the picture'?

But seeing the many slogans on lorries these days, it is abundantly clear that the emphasis is on speed and convenience, something alas, that freight by water simply does not fulfil. It is transport of the past.

CoventrySignSigns galore

Even more signs are now being erected by CaRT, here's one that appeared on bridge 54 on the Coventry Canal, adding to its collection.

So how many more bridge/structures are going to see signs, and at what cost?

Of course it did not come by water as expounded, but by road then fitted by the van man.  So that's the cost of artwork, planning, materials, printing and fitting plus the driver/fitters wages, all adding to the cost.

Yet the whole of the Coventry needs urgent work on the overgrowing trees and vegetation that is making it very hard to see to pass other boats and stay in the channel at times.  No money for this but CaRT can still find money for its burgeoning multitude of signs.

At long, long last

It was over 20 years ago that we first ventured up Hurleston Flight on to the Llangollen, yet I still remember having to make sure all fenders where up owing to the possibility of being stuck in the lock, it having decreased in width over the years.

HurlestonWindingHoleTime and time again we have been told it will be rectified, the last being in January of this year, but at last something is being done, with contractors busy taking a wall down to rebuild it to take out the pinch point(s).

But the stoppage notices are well up to standard, leaving boaters somewhat confused.  First there was the one stating the navigation was also closed for the 100 yards or so from the bridge to the top lock, though of course no one would need to use it as no longer any services there.

And now comes the notice that boaters can wind below the bottom lock—here's a picture.  Make of that what you can.

Good news

Let's end with a bit of good news—the broken lock on the Rufford Branch of the Leeds & Liverpool has been repaired, the pound filled and the lock open for navigation again.

Victor Swift