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Last Updated: Friday, 12 January 2007, 09:34 GMT
Truck stops
Len Tingle
Len Tingle
Political Editor
BBC Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

Simon driving
Simon's journey took three days from West Yorkshire to Turin

Simon Lawton has been driving truck loads of Yorkshire goods to mainland Europe for 15 years.

"It gets harder ever year. More traffic, hold-ups and queues and that's before I've even left Yorkshire," Simon tells the Politics Show's Len Tingle as our cameras joined him in his cab as he set off on a three day trip to Italy.

Simon's journey took in the overnight ferry from the Port of Hull, which together with the docks at Immingham, Grimsby and Goole make the Humber Estuary the busiest in the UK when it comes to handling international freight.

Road congestion

Ferry
There is major investment in new super ferries from Hull to Europe

Two hours after setting off from a foundry in West Yorkshire loaded with steel axels for a truck manufacturing plant at Turin Simon's articulated lorry is in the rush hour traffic inching his way through Hull towards the dock gates.

"There's no other way to get here," he says.

"The M62 motorway was bad enough coming over from West Yorkshire but that stops more than 10 miles short of the docks in Hull.

"Then you take your chances with everyone else"

Ferry concurs

Lorries
From Zebrugge to Italy - on far less congested motorways

It's a view echoed by Alan Hull the regional director of P&O Ferries which runs the daily services between Holland and Belgium and Hull.

The company has invested heavily in new roll-on-roll-off "Super Ferries" like its 90m flagship "The Pride of Rotterdam" and both its freight and passenger business is growing.

"Fifty per cent of our business is freight.. We feel that there is an opportunity for further growth but it certainly doesn't help having a road that suffers from congestion. It is something that is out of hands.

"There is a plan to improve things but it won't be ready until 20012. Over on mainland Europe where we also operate they don't seem to be always trying to catch up with traffic needs."

European tolls

Lorry
Over an hour behind schedule before reaching the Hull ferry

After a 10 hour crossing Simon guides his truck down the ramp and heads for the motorway link which will take him all the way to Turin.

"I'll be paying tolls to use motorways in France, a special road tax across Switzerland and more to get through mountain tunnels, " he says.

"Yet we don't charge foreign trucks anything to use our roads. They don't even pay so much fuel tax.

"Most have extra tanks they fill up before they get on the ferry and don't buy a single litre in Yorkshire. "

The Politics Show

Simon's Lawton's travels will feature in a special edition of the Politics Show for Yorkshire Lincolnshire and the North Midlands on Sunday 14 January 2007.

Broadcast live from the "Pride of Rotterdam" North Sea Ferry, the programme will kick off a series of reports by BBC teams reporting for "Look North", local radio breakfast programmes and our web pages looking at the efforts to unblock the bottlenecks in the region's transport systems.

Let us know what you think.

Join the Politics Show team on Sunday 14 January 2007 at 12:00 GMT on BBC One.


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