Government invests £35m to protect critical freight routes

The UK Government is providing an estimated £35 million to help protect critical freight routes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It has signed agreements with six operators to provide money  to ensure there is enough freight capacity to prevent disruption to the flow of goods.

The decision has been made to protect 16 of the most important routes – covering the Channel, the Short Strait, the North Sea and routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland – which were previously at risk of closure due to a drop in demand as a result of COVID-19. They will now be designated as Public Service Obligation routes for a period of up to nine weeks.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:“From the very beginning of the outbreak, we have committed to do whatever it takes to minimise the disruption caused by COVID-19.

“By taking this action, we have helped protect the movement of goods and services in and out of the UK, safeguarding the flow of supplies across the Union.”

The Department for Transport is working closely with the transport sector and devolved administrations to monitor the situation on all freight routes (not just those in the scheme) in order to ensure critical goods, such as food and medical supplies, can move freely.

The agreements follow the UK, French and Irish governments’ pledge to work together on temporary measures to ensure COVID-19 does not threaten vital freight routes between the countries.

Mr Shapps, Irish Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, and French Minister of Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, said in a joint statement that our nations are united by trade and we will continue to engage closely to help keep freight moving.

Responding to yesterday’s  announcement , Robert Keen Director General of the British International Freight Association, said: “The Government’s decision to provide financial support to safeguard 16 of the most important routes covering the Channel, the Short Strait, the North Sea and routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland provides some reassurance for our members managing the movement of freight on those routes.”