top of page

DP World to replace many lorries with trains

Clean air campaigners have welcomed moves to radically increase the number of containers entering and leaving Southampton docks by rail.

Plans being drawn up by DP World will result in fewer lorry movements, reducing congestion on the roads and improving air quality across the city.

As many as 2,500 lorries a day go in and out of the DP World site, which handles almost two million containers a year.

Between 20 and 30 per cent of imported containers currently leave by train, but the figure could rise to almost 40 per cent. The number arriving by road from across the UK is also set to increase.

A major announcement setting out the details is expected to be made in the next few days.

Andrew Bowen, DP World's chief operating officer in the UK, told the Daily Echo: "It's the right solution and everyone knows it's the right solution.

"It gets trucks off the road and lowers Co2 emissions."

Mr Bowen also confirmed that work is about to start on a £15m project to equip the site with a new lorry park, plus state-of-the-art facilities for the drivers.

Planning permission was granted by Southampton City Council at the end of last year.

The scheme aims to tackle the issue of HGVs parking in roads near the port as well as provide truckers with showers, toilets, and a restaurant.

The rail plan looks set to play an important part in DP World's quest to improve the environment by cutting its carbon emissions.

Royston Smith, Tory MP for Southampton Itchen, said: "The Port of Southampton and DP World are an integral part of the city and a major employer.

"Together with ABP, DP World has made enormous strides to decarbonise their operations.

"We know that vehicle movements are the most challenging and putting more containers onto rail will make a significant difference to air quality.

"I applaud their efforts and commitment as they lead the way to a carbon-zero future."

Cllr Satvir Kaur, leader of the Labour-run Southampton City Council, also welcomed plans to move more containers by rail.

She said: "This is really welcome news. It will not only result in less commercial vehicles on the road but reduce traffic on Southampton’s western corridor."

Lyn Brayshaw, of Southampton Friends of the Earth, added: "Less traffic on the roads is better for everyone's health.

"Hopefully it means people who need to use a vehicle to get around can do so more quickly, causing less pollution because they won't be stuck in congestion."

Many projects aimed at modernising the site and cutting Co2 emissions have already been implemented.

In 2022 the container terminal celebrated its greenest-ever year, achieving a 55 per cent reduction in emissions after switching from diesel to hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO).

New straddle carriers, the 40ft tall vehicles that move containers around the terminal, use 20 per cent less fuel than the ones they replaced.

Mr Bowen said DP World had spent £2bn on its UK facilities over the past decade, including £40m in Southampton in 2022 alone.

The company occupies a 95-hectare site that employs around 1,000 people - directly and indirectly - and is used by the world's largest container ships.

Huge vessels hundreds of metres long transport a variety of cargoes including retail goods, pharmaceuticals, and fresh produce.

Mr Bowen described DP World as an important part of the city and said the Dubai-based business would continue to grow.

He added: "Southampton is one of the most important facilities for DP World and a key part of the supply chain in the UK.

"About 85 per cent of the people who work here live within a ten-mile radius of the terminal.

"We're very keen to be part of the local community and do a lot of work with the Saints Foundation. Last year we had a dinner that raised £65,000 for the Foundation in a single night.

"Hopefully that figure will be surpassed when we hold another dinner in late October."

Meanwhile, work on the new 130-space lorry park is due to start in the near future.

The application said: "The rationale is to improve the efficiency and safety of operations associated with the container terminal.

"When the terminal experiences delays or unexpected issues the current pre-gate area quickly becomes full and it becomes necessary for HGVs to be turned away.

"HGVs end up parking on the public highway network which generates a number of safety and social issues.

"There's now a general acknowledgement that HGV drivers do not work under very pleasant conditions. They often work long hours, spending time away from home, and the facilities they have to use are often not of a particularly high standard.

"These issues are a contributing factor to the current HGV driver shortage that has been well reported.

"The truck park will reduce the number of port-related lorries queuing and parking on local roads as well as improving the welfare of drivers by providing services that are currently not available within the port."

The application was backed by Hampshire Chamber of Commerce.

In a letter to the city council it said: "The port plays a significant part in the city and the region. Its economic development and growth are essential."

The proposal was also backed by Meachers Global Logistics, of Nursling.

It said: "When truckers are delayed at the port they often run out of driving hours, leaving them with only industrial estates or residential streets to park in."


bottom of page