Pipeline politics of the good kind

I know a few people who used to slag me off about “pipeline politics” and the like but what has just been announced in Brugge (or Bruges if you’re that way inclined) is an interesting development. Those familiar with the city or a certain movie for that matter know that its medieval majesty does not lend it easier to get around by vehicle. This makes transportation of good into, around and out of the city difficult. So De Halve Maan, the only brewery operating within the city walls, has come up with a novel solution: a beer pipeline.

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Funded by De Halve Maan itself, a 1.8-mile polyethylene underground pipeline will transport 6,000 litres of beer every hour between the brewery and its bottling facility located on the outskirts of the city. The journey is expected to take 15 to 20 minutes. The local council has backed this initiative as it will remove trucks from the city streets, easing congestion and carbon emissions, whilst ensuring production will still occur at the brewery site that attracts over 100,000 visitors per annum. Also, not having to contribute financially to the project is a significant bonus.

Could this happen in Dublin for instance? Think about the issues Guinness have transporting its products from St. James Gate right across the centre of city to Dublin Port. The famous barges are gone and trucks are the order of the day. A lot of movement takes place at night but it’s an expensive process and obviously not the most environmentally-efficient one (Guinness does have an ambitious green strategy).

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The brewery’s solution is to use the Luas track (which runs to the entrance of the port) track during the night. This would require a small piece of track running from the brewery to join the line at Seán Heuston Bridge and a new track running from the entrance of the port to the dock. Guinness would provide the investment. However, the plan needs the backing of Dublin City Council and no doubt others such as the National Transport Authority. Sadly, due to the nature of our local government system it’s difficult to get ambitious and creative plans off the ground.

It’s amazing to think that it’s easier to get things to happen in a UNESCO World Heritage Site like Brugge.

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