Tuesday, May 30, 2023

MMS ‘Off-Roader’ brings new commercial life to Yorkshire’s canals

A historic Yorkshire waterway has once again welcomed regular commercial traffic.

Following a significant investment by MMS Workboats of Hull and extensive trials, the 500-tonne capacity barge ‘MMS Off-Roader’ has been transporting marine aggregate from ABP Humber’s Albert Dock in Hull to Knostrop in Leeds. From Leeds the commodity is forwarded for use across West Yorkshire’s building industry.

Each trip is welcome news for those using Yorkshire’s strategic road network as it immediately takes over 18 heavy goods vehicles off the roads, a figure that will increase if commercial traffic using waterways grows as expected.

David Lowe of the Commercial Boat Operators Association said: “Commercial traffic is returning to the Aire and Calder Canal after a lot of hard work by a lot of people. Britain’s waterways are an underused part of the transport network, with an ability to deliver heavy goods in a quiet but efficient way that helps keep heavy lorries off the roads. The run of ‘MMS Off-Roader’ to Leeds is something to celebrate and is the largest vessel to reach central Leeds for 30 years.”

Rob Langton, MMS Managing Director, said: “As a key part of the local marine industry MMS are very happy to get this ship underway with what we hope is the first of a regular trade for the building industry of West Yorkshire. It is a shipment that takes heavy good vehicles off our pressurised road network, a win for logistics and the wider environment.”

Simon Bird, ABP Humber Director, said: “Operating commercial vessels across the region’s waterways will bring huge benefits to the area. Along with a reduction in emissions, taking heavy goods vehicles of the roads will also help reduce road congestion and improve safety. Congratulations to MMS Workboats of Hull and the wider team involved with this project.”

The historic Aire and Calder Navigation has not had regular commercial traffic to Leeds for over 10 years. The trip starts its journey at ABP’s Albert Dock in Hull, locks into the canal at Goole before heading to Knostrop, Leeds. It is hoped it will encourage similar traffic to other destinations. The start of this traffic represents a major investment by MMS Workboats of Hull and other interested parties including AC Marine Aggregates Lt. and the Canal and River Trust.

Another sustainable accolade for the ‘MMS Off-Roader’ is that it has been repurposed. The vessel was originally a tanker named the ‘Humber Princess’ built in Hull in 1979. MMS’s skilled team, planned and delivered the conversion project, taking just short of a year.

An important part of the conversion was to ensure the crew operating the ‘MMS Off-Roader’ have superior facilities onboard, as they journey along the waterways.

Rob Langton added: “We are keen to encourage young people to consider a career in shipping. The safety and welfare of our team is of paramount importance to us, and it was key that we ensured all the comforts of home could be provided to those working the barge.”

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