Sainsbury’s barge transport plan faces a raft of obstacles

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Sainsbury's attempts to deliver to some of its stores in London by river have run aground.

The retailer had hoped to save 350,000 road kilometres every year by rolling out daily barge deliveries to stores near the Thames. However obstacles it identified during a trial in 2007, in which goods were floated along the river from its Charlton RDC to a store in Wandsworth, have yet to be overcome.

The problems flagged up in the trial were the incompatibility of the size of barges and Sainsbury's 44ft trailers, and tidal issues that made regular, timely deliveries extremely difficult.

Although Sainsbury's is still in discussion with the Port of London Authority, Cory Environmental and Transport for London the original partners in the trial there is no ready solution to the problems.

"We would certainly like to add this to our range of transport methods, but there are many obstacles to overcome," said a Sainsbury's spokesman. "The Thames, with its lack of open access infrastructure, makes time-sensitive deliveries to our store base in the capital quite a challenge."

The retailer was unable to say when it would be in a position to resume the deliveries by river.

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