Air, sea and rail links are vital highways without which global trade would grind to a halt. In recent months, that global trade has faced the worldwide challenge of Covid-19 which has threatened to derail economies everywhere. It is imperative that those air, sea and rail links are maintained to avoid an economic meltdown. Those who work in the transport industry need to be kept safe so that goods can ultimately reach consumers.

This article was first published in the July 2020 issue of Logistics Insight, subscribe to the magazine by clicking here.

The British Ports Association has welcomed news that the UK Government will postpone its plans to introduce full border checks on traffic arriving from the EU for six months from January 2021. This will be done for imports into the UK in three phases until July 2021. Richard Ballantyne, the Chief Executive of the British Ports Association, said: “This is welcome news. Across the board the freight industry has been telling government that it will not be ready. The risk of doing nothing could have led to issues for much of our trade with Europe, including severe congestion at ports. Delays and additional costs for freight operators get passed on and ultimately this sensible and pragmatic decision will mean British manufacturers and consumers are not faced with the increased expenditure, at least until a more formal border operating model is agreed by industry and Government.”

The Prime Minister has announced plans to speed up infrastructure investment to ensure an economic recovery following the Coronavirus outbreak. The investment includes not only HS2 and NPR but also better roads and rail, unblocking the central Manchester bottleneck that delays services across the north. Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association (RIA), commented: “The railway industry will play a key role in any economic recovery, and so we urge the Government to announce in the coming weeks a clear pipeline of accelerated work it will support across the country to deliver economic growth, investment and jobs. Suppliers need to see specific schemes with delivery timelines so they can plan and build their project teams, delivering a world-class rail network which benefits not just rail but UK plc more widely, its economy and long-term connectivity.”

Things may also be looking up in the air sector as Heathrow Airport has been granted permission to appeal against a block on its plans for a third runway. In February the Court of Appeal found the government decision to allow the plans to go ahead was unlawful but now the Supreme Court has given permission for an appeal to go ahead. An airport spokesman said: “Responding to the impacts of coronavirus is our priority right now. We do believe that once the benefits of air travel and connectivity have been restored in years to come, an expanded Heathrow will be required.” The Heathrow spokesman added that the privately funded project would “see billions of pounds pumped into the UK’s economy, stimulating sectors across the country and creating tens of thousands of new jobs.”

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