There is a reason why many of the world’s great cities are located next to rivers. Historically, those waterways were the life blood of commerce. People tend to settle where business gets done. But with the advent of planes, trucks, and railroads, the economic importance of rivers diminished. In London, DHL, one of the world’s largest package delivery companies, it recreating the Thames river as a commercial highway.
Every morning, package arriving at Heathrow airport are transported to a nearby dock on the Thames by electric vehicles. Once on board, they speed down the river to London, where they are unloaded and placed on pedal powered cargo bikes for delivery to their final destination in the city. DHL is using similar water routes to deliver packages in Venice and Amsterdam
“This year we will be investing around one billion euros in our infrastructure in order to expand our global network and thus further improve the quality of our customer business,” say John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express in a press release. “In addition to renewing our aircraft fleet and expanding our hubs and gateways, we are continuously working on innovative solutions that help us to transform our vision of ‘connecting people, improving lives’ into reality. This also includes new transport routes that we are aiming to reduce The DHL boat is a faster, more efficient and reliable way to use a currently undeveloped access route to London, and it is one of several initiatives to promote road traffic, CO2 emissions and thus improve air quality.”
DHL spokesperson Ian Wilson says, “With traffic and poor air quality becoming an increasing problem in urban areas like London, we are committed to finding a better mix of modes. This new and unique service, which combines electric vehicles, river boats, and bicycles for the last mile, enables quick and efficient access to the capital.”
The river boat service is the latest addition to GoGreen, DHL’s company-wide environmental protection program, which aims to reduce or avoid emissions of greenhouse gases and local air pollutants. DHL has committed to reducing its logistics related emissions to zero by 2050. Now if only DHL could power that river freighter with electricity instead of fossil juice, the zero emissions parcel delivery revolution would be nearly complete.