Our 13 ports are of international significance
and collectively carry half of the UK’s freight

Better connections to the East’s 13 ports and three international airports can help UK businesses thrive

Freight to and from ports is currently vulnerable to major delays and incidents which result in temporary road or rail closures. We will work with the freight industry and local authorities on a Future of Freight Plan for the East.

Along with identifying improvements to the transport network for freight, this will tackle the availability of high-quality facilities for trucks and drivers along port access routes.

It will also provide recommendations on improving journey time, resilience, diversionary routes for road and increasing capacity on rail networks that serve ports on a corridor basis.

Our Keeping Trade on Track report highlights how the region has an important role in the movement of freight movement across the UK, and looks at the benefit of moving freight movements to rail.

The Wider South East Freight Forum

Three of England's STB's - Transport East, Transport for the South East (TfSE) and England's Economic Heartland (EEH) - have come together to launch the Wider South East Freight Forum. The forum aims to:

  • Promote a better understanding and partnership working between freight and logistics operators, business representatives and public sector.
  • Share good practice, knowledge, expertise and advice between the members across the wider geographical area.
  • Facilitate collaborative working to resolve common issues and drive action towards shared goals.

How will the Wider South East Freight Forum acheive these aims?

The forum will bring together members’ intelligence, innovation, and advice while exploring the challenges and opportunities the sector will face in the coming years.

This includes how the transport network can be improved to support operator's needs, and where we can promote and work to resolve issues, such as the need for improved lorry parking and driver welfare facilities.

Why is a freight forum required?

The movement of goods does not stop at borders. This is why EEH, TE, and TfSE have established the Wider South East Freight Forum, bringing together freight and logistics industry representatives such as Logistics UK, the Road Haulage Association, local authorities, business representatives, and ports and airports.

The wider south east area is home to some of the busiest international gateways in Great Britain including the airports of Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick, along with the ports of Felixstowe, Tilbury, Southampton and Portsmouth, which all offer unparalleled reach and access to global markets.

Freeport East, Thames Freeport and The Solent Freeport sith within the wider region and will unlock billions of pounds worth of investment, create tens of thousands of new jobs and level up our important coastal communities. The area also has some of the busiest freight routes running across its geography, particularly those to and from the Midlands.

From parcels to cars and groceries - goods worth hundreds of billions of pounds are imported and exported each year from our country’s ports, airports, and international rail connections across the globe.

What has happened so far?

The first meeting was held on the 7 December 2023 where the forum identified members’ challenges, opportunities and priorities and highlighted common themes. Meetings will be held three times a year.