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Four years ago the Canal & River Trust launched a last-ditch attempt to revive commercial freight carrying on the larger waterways before it died out completely. How has it fared since then?
Back in the 1990s, any guide describing the canals and rivers of Yorkshire and the north eastern part of the network would make a point of emphasising how these large-scale waterways were still busy with freight barges loading several hundred tonnes each and helping to satisfy the nation’s transport needs – unlike the small-scale canals of the Midlands and most of the rest of the system, where regular commercial freight had died out a quarter of a century earlier.
Canal & River Trust will move resource from its centrally based roles into its six regional customer-facing teams to improve customer service and engage with local communities.
The changes will be made as part of the trust’s waterways and well being strategy and will see operational management roles adapted to meet the requirements of the new regions.
Richard Parry, CEO, commented: “The Trust has been repositioning as a charity for the waterways and well being, with a new structure that has seen us move from ten waterways to six larger regions, with some activities previously managed centrally now devolved to these regional teams, and a reduction in senior manager numbers overall.
The Environment Agency is to increase the cost of boat registrations on its waterways from 2019 which it says will help ensure a sustainable service and cover maintenance.
It said that the new charges for 2019-21 will be invested in waterways enjoyed by around 29,000 boat users, helping to meet the shortfall between the cost of running the service and the income currently generated from annual boat registrations.
“We realise an increase in charges is never welcome news but it is essential to keep the levels of service and maintenance which boaters tell us is needed,” said Mark Ormrod, EA national manager for navigation.