London Gateway opening date announced
London Gateway, the new port and logistics centre project currently under construction in the lower reaches of the River Thames, will open in the fourth quarter of 2013 with an initial capacity of 1.6m TEU.
The announcement was made at a lavish reception held at the onsite headquarters of London Gateway on 4 October, to 400 invited guests and representatives from the press and media.
UK Business Secretary Vince Cable, and Shipping Minister Mike Penning joined DP World chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, vice chairman Jamal Majid Bin Thaniah, CEO Mohammed Sharaf and the rest of the DP World Board at the reception to mark the formal announcement and tour the site. The guest list included stakeholders, representatives from almost every sector of the shipping and logistics industries and those involved in the construction and future operation of the new port.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of DP World, said: “We are delighted to announce a definitive opening date for the new port, which is a unique infrastructure development for the UK. London Gateway will help UK businesses improve efficiency and competitiveness. It will also provide the UK with a premier, world class global trading centre. Our investment in London Gateway reflects our long term commitment to the UK and to our customers trading in this market.”
In addition to the opening date, DP World announced the creation of an extra 1,000 new jobs for the UK in the coming months, 700 new construction jobs and 300 new port jobs. Estimates predict that as many as 36,000 jobs will be created by the project in the long term, providing some £3.2bn to the UK economy each year. The project has already created more than 600 jobs since January 2010, when major construction work started at the site.
By locating Britain’s most environmentally friendly major new port and what is set to become Europe’s largest logistics park on London’s doorstep, UK business will soon be able to take advantage of a more cost effective, greener way of getting the nation’s goods to consumers.
DP World, the world’s third largest port operator, with it’s headquarters in Dubai, has been laying the foundations for the new port since early 2010 and is expecting to invest a further $1bn in London Gateway over the next three years. Announcing the opening date is a major milestone, reflecting DP World’s commitment to the UK market.
London Gateway is set to become the premier UK logistics centre. Once complete, the new port and park facility will save UK business millions of pounds every year in land transport costs. An estimated 65m road freight miles every year will be saved as many goods will no longer need to be transported from deep sea ports to inland distribution centres. Instead, goods will be sent straight into the new London Gateway Logistics Park and then directly to shops and homes.
Commenting upon the announcement, Dr Vince Cable,UK Government Business Secretary, said, “The opening of London Gateway in just two years’ time will transform the UK’s maritime port infrastructure and play an important role in helping Britain’s economy grow in the coming years. It will help Britain to maintain its competitiveness, drive productivity, and crucially strengthen our links with Asia and beyond. The importance of this project cannot be overestimated. The announcement of these 1,000 new jobs today is a welcome boost to the UK.”
A major feature of the presentation given by DP World executives was the award and signing of four major port equipment contracts with representatives from ZPMC and Cargotec. ZPMC will provide eight of the world’s largest quay cranes, capable of serving the next generation of 18,000 TEU container ships, and rail mounted gantry cranes for the port’s rail terminal. Cargotec will supply automated stacking cranes and straddle carriers for use in the port.
Those attending the reception were given the opportunity to visit the construction site and to view the work progressing on the newly reclaimed land where work on the quay wall is well advanced. The progress made in the year since Maritime Journal last visited the site is considerable (see MJ October 2010). Dredging and the delivery of dredged material to the site by Dredging International NV (DEME Group) is now complete for the first phase. Land reclamation for the new 1,300m long quay has been planned in two phases, starting from the eastern (downstream) end. The first phase section of 700m in length extends some 600m into the estuary and has been compacted and prepared to enable the quay wall to be constructed. Considerable infilling and site levelling is taking place on the landward side of the reclaimed area and material from massive stockpiles of dredged material (sand and ballast) is still being redistributed. A separate logistics park, originally planned to be 9.5m sq/ft in size, will be built under a separate construction contract.
Work on the quay wall is progressing rapidly. Excavation, and the construction of a ‘diaphragm wall’, using a Bentonite slurry process and two parallel concrete walls, is taking place on ‘dry ground’ well inside the outer bund and rock armour. Construction is the responsibility of Laing O’Rourke Infrastructure Limited and their sub-contractors. The work is exacting and requires trenches to be dug accurately to a depth of 49m before the steel reinforced concrete walls can be built. When complete the diaphragm wall not only forms the quaywall but also supports the ‘decking’ on which the rails for the massive container cranes will be laid.
Once sections of the quay wall are completed the rock armour will be removed and retained for use elsewhere on site. The original bund material will be dredged away to leave a water depth of 17m. A massive amount of work is still to be done to meet the 2013 deadline.
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