Provisional Port Statistics 2009

Logo: National Statistics The Department has published National Statistics on provisional figures for freight traffic at each UK port during 2009 according to the arrangements approved by the UK Statistics Authority.

These figures show that in 2009:

  • Total freight traffic through UK ports was 508 million tonnes (Mt), a drop of 9.5 per cent on 2008. Of this traffic 497 Mt (98 per cent) was through the 52 major ports.
  • Inwards traffic fell by 11 per cent to 308 Mt, whilst outwards traffic fell by 7 per cent to 201 Mt.  
  • Since 1989 total traffic has risen by 28 Mt (6 per cent). Inwards traffic increased by 12 per cent while outwards traffic decreased by 3 per cent.
  • Grimsby and Immingham maintained its position as the UK’s busiest port in terms of tonnage in 2009 with 54.7 Mt (down 10.6 Mt on 2008), followed by London with 45.4 Mt (down 7.5 Mt). 

The top ten ports in 2009 in terms of tonnage were as follows:

million tonnes     
  2009  2008
Grimsby and Immingham 54.7 65.3
London 45.4 53.0
Milford Haven  39.3 35.9 
Tees and Hartlepool 39.2 45.4
Southampton 37.2 41.0
Forth 36.7 39.1
Liverpool 29.9 32.2
Felixstowe 26.4 25.0
Dover 25.1 24.3
Medway  13.1  15.0


UK Port Traffic by Direction, 1989 to 2009

Unitised traffic

  • Total unitised traffic through UK major ports was 20.9 million units, a fall of 9 per cent on 2008.  Inwards traffic fell by 8.1 per cent to 10.9 million units and outwards traffic fell by 9.9 per cent to 10.1 million units.
  • Since 2000, total lo-lo container traffic through UK major ports has risen by 5 per cent to 4.56 million units in 2009 and total ro-ro freight units traffic has risen by 17 per cent to 7.19 million units.
  • Felixstowe maintained its position as the UK’s largest lo-lo container port in 2009 with 1.86 million containers, down 4 per cent on 2008. Southampton maintained its position in second place with 0.84 million containers, down 12 per cent.
  • Dover was the top UK port for ro-ro freight units with 2.29 million units, down by less than half of one per cent on 2008.  Grimsby and Immingham was the next biggest port for ro-ro freight units at 0.66 million units, down 8 per cent on 2008.


1. This information is collected by the Department from ports as part of a statutory survey of port traffic.

2. The information relates to all cargoes loaded or unloaded by ship at ports in the UK. The traffic includes both international and domestic.  Major ports (52 in total) are ports handling at least 1 million tonnes annually plus a small number of ports with less tonnage. A breakdown by cargo type is included in response to user requests. More detailed final results will be published in Maritime Statistics 2009 in September 2010.

3. This year for the first time, in response to user requests, information on unitised traffic is included and a breakdown by lift-on, lift-off (lo-lo) containers, roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro) freight units and trade cars is provided.   Ro-ro freight units include road goods vehicles, unaccompanied trailers and shipborne port-to-port trailers.

4. Provisional quarterly results (tonnage and units by direction) for each of the major ports are published on the DfT website. 

5. For further enquiries about port statistics please telephone 020 7944 3087.

Publication details

Published on 10 June 2010 by Transport Statistics.

Email for queries concerning this release.

For information about release of this product see United Kingdom National Statistics Authority.

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