As countries impose new barriers to the movement of people to stem the spread of Covid-19, logistics companies are facing delays to trucks at many national borders and falling demand for some freight movements.
Freight firms are doing their best to navigate new challenges in European overland transport and logistics, as countries impose new barriers to the movement of people, leading to delays to trucks at many national borders, and demand for many kinds of freight movements drops away.
In its latest coronavirus operational update, Bolloré Logistics said while the EU’s borders and the Schengen area are now closed to passenger travel for the next month due to the coronavirus outbreak, “the flow of goods is free from these restrictions in the vast majority of countries so as not to break supply chains”.
However, it underlined that although road freight transport is maintained, it remains “subject to disruptions and slowdowns due to increased border control, sanitary measures such as temperature measurements of drivers, etc., and special arrangements” – such as the closure of certain border posts, detours, and driver unavailability.
Bolloré added that the European Commission has proposed the designation of green lanes at the borders “for the emergency transport of foodstuffs, medical goods and protective items or even livestock” which will be given priority passage.
According to a live shipment delivery map for predictive delays in trucks crossing borders, created by the shipment visibility provider Sixfold, the EU’s internal and external borders have been suffering with traffic jams as lorries try and get into neighbouring countries, including up to 60 km of queues reported on the Lithuanian-Polish border, while similar traffic jams have disrupted travel over Germany and Poland and Hungarian-Austrian travel.
Sixfold’s free and live shipment delivery map for predictive delays in trucks crossing borders also queues of more than 50km at several border crossing points from Germany to Poland, and of 20km at one crossing point from France to Germany. The map, which can be accessed at sixfold.com/covid-19, is updated in live time and is aimed at manufacturers, retailers and logistics service providers, to provide them “with real-time and predictive visibility over shipments in these pandemic times”.
Danny Southby, head of European development at UK freight forwarder Davies Turner, which operates daily overland trailer services to and from several European countries including France, Germany and Spain said: “Volumes have decreased, but it’s early days. The virus only started to take hold in Europe a couple of weeks ago. The impact is likely to be felt as the measures taken by governments to reduce personal contact kick in, with a possible knock-on effect on consumer spending.”
He continued: “Frequency has been reduced on some routes, but none have been suspended. However, the situation is under constant review. It is DT’s intention to try to maintain all current European overland trailer services.”
The company operates services three times weekly from Dartford to Milan, with additional direct services to and from other parts of Italy – the country worst-affected by the virus in Europe. “Bookings have slowed and cargo is down. This is mainly an import business,” Southby said.
He was unable to confirm reports that Covid-19 has led to hikes in ex-Italy road freight rates of up to 30%, noting: “DT has long-term contractual arrangements with haulage companies, so has not seen this trend.”