Driver-free freight ferry terminal now open in Tilbury

Tilbury2’s brand new unaccompanied freight ferry terminal opened for business this week. The 500,000-unit freight-only facility will allow a truck driver-free operation at a time when infection control is uppermost in everyone’s minds.

After a year of construction, led by construction giants GRAHAM, the country’s newest and largest unaccompanied freight roll on/roll off (ro-ro) terminal, located at the edge of London, will operate in exclusive partnership with P&O Ferries. The first ship to use the fully operational terminal was P&O’s chartered freight ferry the Norstream.

The bespoke terminal will import and export containers and trailers with vital supplies for the UK, including food, drink and medicines to and from continental Europe on P&O’s busy Tilbury-Zeebrugge freight route.


The new ro-ro terminal is part of a £250 million investment by owner, Forth Ports, which is creating a brand-new port, Tilbury2. The terminal is trusted trader Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) accredited and embraces the latest booking and border technology, such as number plate recognition, which ensures that the terminal is Brexit-ready to continue the smooth passage of goods, regardless of the eventual EU-UK settlement. The marine works for the new ro-ro terminal were completed in April and successful ship trials were carried out on 17 May.


Commenting on the opening, Charles Hammond, Group Chief Executive of Forth Ports, said: “This is an important time for the UK as we emerge from the lockdown. Our new freight terminal is the country’s most modern ferry port offering a seamless and lower carbon route to the biggest consumer market in Europe, Greater London. Despite the current challenges we have delivered a resilient terminal with significant headroom to grow as we pursue our vision of being the nation’s strategic freight gateway to-and-from Europe. We believe that this terminal opening is a symbol of hope for economic recovery.”


Tilbury2 is a new port at the former Tilbury Power Station on the north bank of the River Thames on the outskirts of London. When fully operational later this year, Tilbury2 will be the UK’s largest unaccompanied freight ferry port, the country’s biggest construction processing hub and will see the creation of a new significantly larger rail head which can accommodate the longest freight trains of 775 metres.


Tilbury2 received development consent from the Secretary of State for Transport in February 2019 to build Tilbury2 – the new multimillion-pound port terminal adjacent to the current 930-acre site in Thurrock, on the outskirts of Greater London. The £250m Tilbury2 project consists of the construction of a new port terminal and associated facilities and once fully open.

The project is central to the Port of Tilbury’s £1 billion investment programme during 2012-20, which has seen it double the size of its business in the past 10 years and is projected to double the volume of cargo across the quay (from 16 million to 32 million tonnes) and increase direct employment (from 3,500 to 12,000 jobs).


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