Sea freight from London directly to Paris will become possible with a new waterways project being given the go ahead.
A new multi-million pound new project to link two canals in France will open up sea freight routes from the French capital directly to major ports on the northern coastline of the English Channel, making the transport of goods from London to Paris by sea freight possible for the first time ever.
The plan, which was announced by President Sarkozy, is set to cost 4.5 billion euros and is scheduled to open to vessels carrying sea freight by 2020 at the latest. The Seine-Nord Canal project will involve building a 106km long and 54m wide section of canal to link the Seine and Scheldt rivers. It will be a major feat of engineering with seven new locks, two major aqueducts, four inland ports, 57 road bridges and two rail bridges.
Funding will be sourced from the EU, French local and state funds as well as private capital. Once opened, 4,400 tonne ships will be able to sail along loaded with sea cargo and freight to Paris and beyond, fully opening up mainland Europe.
Analysts believe the scheme will reduce the number of trucks on the road by half a million, providing significant carbon emissions savings. The waterway will also be open to leisure traffic too.
The Seine-Scheldt link will clearly have advantages for trade from the UK, making sea freight from London and other ports directly to Paris possible. Daniel Parry, CEO online goods transportation website Delivery Quote Compare commented : “Transporting goods via sea freight is calculated as being four times less expensive than travelling by lorry, so this new project will transform sea freight from the UK to mainland Europe, hopefully leading to lower prices for customers wanting to get goods shipped to Europe.”
There had been concerns that the canal will be passing through the World War One battlefields of Cambrai, so authorities have given written assurances that no graves will be disturbed.