We might not like saying it, but – in haulage work at least – bigger is often better. Whether you’re an old hand or a newcomer to the industry, there’s something undeniably impressive about moving truly huge loads. In this article, we’ll look at one particularly striking recent delivery through the Dartford Tunnel.
In most industries, you’d be rightly suspicious if someone offered to sell you a bridge – after all, the phrase has become shorthand for an obvious and outlandish con. Even in haulage work, you should probably confirm details before taking the job. But the transport and logistics industry is one of the few where you could credibly need to move something of this size.
One company discovered this recently, taking a job to transport a full 41m footbridge through the Dartford Tunnel.
Amazingly, this was not the first time something improbably large went into the tunnel on one end and emerged safely on the other. In fact, the route is often used in haulage work to transport loads too dangerous for the motorway network.
Other notably large deliveries in the area include:
•A 232-tonne electrical transformer, literally the size of a house, which passed over the Dartford Bridge into Buckinghamshire. This is even more astonishing as the huge load passed over a suspension bridge.
•Back underground, a full, 28m aeroplane fuselage went through the tunnel as part of its journey to a Shropshire RAF museum.
Still, despite this impressive competition, the recent 41m bridge took the record for the longest ever free-flow load to pass through the crossing.
Logistics and Planning
Of course, in each of these cases, successful completion of the job required a lot more than just securing the delivery and driving on through the crossing. Even in a business as tightly planned as haulage work, massive deliveries require a lot of planning. This is especially true in the Dartford Tunnel, where even a short-term blockage could have devastating effects on wider traffic flow, due to the 185,000 journeys that take place through the route on the average day.
In the case of delivering the bridge to Southend in Essex, the operation saw Essex police and Highways England join Dartford Crossing Connect Plus Services to complete the job safely.
We’ll spare the details on how this improbable feat was achieved – frankly, they’d take more than a full article on their own. Instead, we’ll just note the results. Not only did the load make it to its destination safely – the job was completed without any serious disruption. Traffic was stopped, but for just three minutes. Success this resounding deserves applause from any quarters – especially from those in the industry who understand the pressures and issues at play.
With so much traffic in the area, strong demand for big jobs and ever-improving technology, it’s possible this record might not stand for long. Anyone in haulage work should stay up to date with major achievements, as success in one area undoubtedly has effects for the wider industry.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage work with available drivers, and is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange in the UK.
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