Following on from our initial report from fellow transport magazine editors across Europe relating to the COVID-19 crisis , this update was put together from information received today (Monday 16 March) and ongoing.
As Truck Dealerships and their workshops close across Europe concern is being raised about the resources available to serve roadside repairs and recovery. *See note below
Regarding events and exhibitions, there are numerous cancellations and postponements such as the ITT Hub, IntralogistX and the IRX/eDX in England and LogiMat and Hannover Messe in Germany, with more to follow inevitably.
The Czech government is to restrict all free movement of people. Authorities have shut down about 21 villages and towns on the north of Moravia. Road transport still not really affected – still going, but of course some problems on the borders. Now that the Czech Rep is totally close on all borders around. No flights, no trains, no buses. Everything is changing here very quickly.
Yesterday the Ministry of Transport announced that the first convoy of Bulgarian trucks, stuck on the border between Croatia and Slovenia has progresses to Bulgaria. The border between Serbia and Bulgaria is closed for people, vans and buses, it is only open for transport of goods and for people with diplomatic passports. The situation is the same on the border with North Macedonia – only trucks are allowed to pass. The truck traffic on the borders with Greece and Turkey is very intensive. On the Turkish border, the Turkish authorities have mounted thermocameras for measuring the temperature of the incoming passengers. This is slowing down the passing towards Turkey. International fast train between Bulgaria and Turkey is cancelled. On the border with Romania -on the Vidin bridge over Danube river – there are waiting trucks in both directions and some smaller border points with Romania are closed. From tomorrow all the flights to Italy and Spain was cancelled.
Situation on Monday morning – New steps in France today – All shops and schools closed (except supermarket and pharmacy). For the moment trucks are not concern, they can continue to work, but because many companies stop activities, trucks are indirectly concerned, many are empty. Some truck dealers are starting to close like the non-essential shops.
They will close all workshops too, with only assistance on the road to continue. That’s really a big step because no service – no trucks… it can become a major problem really quick.
Truck stop are closed (not allowed to open because of the restaurant restrictions. Now another problem, how will truck drivers take showers? What will they do for toilets and how they will eat ? (Even shops in gas station are closing, serving only fuel). The French truck drivers are not used to live in the cab. Nobody have the equipment to cook in the truck.
In Germany the borders to at least five neighbouring countries are closed except for urgent reasons and cargo transport. Weekend limits of truck transport are lifted. Strange situation in the Federal Republic: Street transport is not limited yet but has come down to an extreme low level as the borders of the transit ways are closed. Delivery of goods and food is running without problems, even in the times when people start buying too much.
Practical issues like border crossing and situation at truck stops, are in focus, not to mention the truck market which has almost collapsed.
Borders are closed, not for trucks though, ferries to and from Italy still go only for trucks, no holiday makers. According to the media, government are frightened by the tragic development in neighbouring Italy, and are religiously following the “best practice” (Japan so far, least casualties/infections worldwide) to stop this thing from spreading, by flattening the so called curve. A complete ban on passenger car traffic is a matter of hours according to some ‘in the know’ journalists.
Cross-Channel ferry movements to and from Ireland and Britain is been rationalised with some cancellations and ship operators introducing restrictions. These services are vital in the continuous movement of goods exported and imported into the country.
For example, Seatruck Ferries has placed temporary restrictions of the movements of passengers on their vessels. No bookings will be accepted for car and passenger or driver accompanied freight bookings for the remainder of March 2020 on all routes.
Any bookings required for April 2020 onwards will be accepted on an “under review” basis and may still be subject to cancellation.
To significantly reduce the risk of crew infection and cross contamination between travelling drivers we have decided to stop shipping any HGV drivers or any other passengers on our Irish Sea vessels with immediate effect. Its Irish Sea services will run as normal but will be restricted to the shipment of drop trailers and unaccompanied trade vehicles.
Irish Ferries cancelled some services last week.
Major disruption to Brittany Ferries’ services due to COVID-19 include numerous cancellations across its regular programme.
The pharma sector, which is a big export industry in Ireland is striving to get the products out of the country and onto international markets. We hear that Intermodal transport is still operating as normal across Europe, with operators transferring traditional direct road load volumes to rail.
Internally, the supermarkets are still being served with supplies, despite the panic buying continuing. Last evening the Government placed an order to close all pubs and entertainment centres until end of March. Tomorrow being St. Patricks’s Day, our national holiday and celebrations will be muted.
Transport & Logistics have been declared by the government as ‘essential labour’, among other segments. All transport is going on. Reports are coming from drivers who are treated badly at depots, not allowed to use toilets or even getting out of their truck. From today, restaurants etc. are closed, including truckstops. Truck drivers are advised to take their own food. Some truckstops are open for showers/toilets, some restaurants have started take-away services. Supermarket distribution is in good shape, although people are hoarding here as well. Stena Line ferries Hook of Holland – Harwich is running freight without restrictions. Government has started financial support programmes for companies affected most by the situation.
Regarding the situation for transport industry it is running, together with health and food industry workers. The rest of us must stay at home. Toilets, showers and places to buy food is getting troublesome for the drivers. The same situation as in NL where drivers are not allowed to use toilets etc. in the terminals.
It was reported at the weekend that all ferries would stop, but now they have changed. They will only transport trucks. Border control for everyone, and all non-residents except truck drivers must return. All people except truck drivers must have 14 days of quarantine entering the country. Many Norwegian companies relay on foreign drivers (on Norwegian trucks) they normally work 14 days on and 14 days off, this people must have quarantine coming back to the country so already there is getting a shortage of drivers in many companies. It is not needed to have the competence proof anymore since all courses are banned. Drivers don’t have to follow the regulations on drive time, (must stop every 4.5 hrs for 45 min) if transporting food and some other supplies.
After 14 years, borders are now closed for passenger traffic in buses and cars. All polish citizens coming back to home country are sent for 14 days quarantine at home.
But road transport works. Truck drivers coming home are not send for quarantine, if they declare they can go to unload and load another cargo for next trip. But in a situation when on all cross-passing on borders are covered with sanitary and security police checks, all traffic flow is slower. Then the trucks on the biggest Polish-German border on A2 motorway near Berlin have to wait 7 hours. On the Ukrainian border they wait 37 hours.
There is another problem; new governmental rules for Polish truck drivers. And many are foreigners, the law dosn’t apply to every truck driver. Also we see problems at depots. No prepared infrastructure for drivers coming from abroad, they are most usually closed for them.
From today (Monday), Portugal will close boarders with Spain. Terrestrial boarders only for now. Trucks and transport of goods will only be able to cross. For now no emergency state. Only alert State.
Situation in Slovakia is very similar as to the other countries. ALL Schools are shut down, only big border crossings remained opened and only Slovak citizens are allowed to come into country. All people coming from abroad are requIried to take 14-day quarantine when they enter the country.
Since yesterday the government released more strict rules, only grocery stores, telecommunication, pharmacy and banks are open, all other stores are closed for the next two weeks.
In Sweden, the Foreign Ministry announced on Saturday evening that they advise against traveling abroad if this is not necessary. Tourist flights from Sweden are cancelled. Some regular flights to important destinations according to timetable.
Stena, which has ferry lines to Denmark, Germany and Poland, announced yesterday that they are stopping passenger traffic, but that some routes are running but only for freight transport.
Still nothing to report from the UK, other than truck drivers not being allowed to use customers’ toilets and the public’s panic buying.
*In relation to the issue raised about truck dealerships closing across Europe and the question whether they can provide roadside back-up or not, a number of brand have replied as follows:
Volvo Trucks: Yes, we’re in a very strong position because of our excellent people and dealer network across the UK & Ireland and into Europe. We will continue to do our upmost to service our customer’s requirements and continue delivering a 100% service to our customers.
Mercedes-Benz: We strive to support our customers at this crucial time while protecting the health and well-being of our employees. Everything changing very fast, but for now we keep supply going of course. Front line service providers will especially looked after.
Renault Trucks: We will back up all the essential services for sure. For now workshops will across Ireland & UK will stay open.
Scania: At this moment there is a comprehensive network of Scania dealers open both in Ireland & abroad. This situation could change of course, particularly driven by Government rules & regulations.
MAN Truck & Bus
MAN Truck & Bus UK is closely following the UK Government guidelines, monitoring the situation daily, also receiving guidance from our headquarters in Munich too.
“As a business we are making the necessary and required changes to ensure that we look after our staff, our customers and our customer’s staff welfare. Supporting our customers throughout this time is of key importance and we have put a number of extra measures in place to ensure we continue to offer an outstanding level of customer service.
We have increased our fast moving part levels within our own branches by an additional two months stock. Our parts supply function, via our PCD in Swindon, supports both the UK and Europe and in the event of this facility having to close we will be able to supply parts direct from our Salzgitter facility.
MAN Truck & Bus UK would like to request that if a customer finds themselves in an MAN workshop or in the presence of MAN staff, that they please adhere to the government health standards, keep no closer than 2 meters apart and user high hygiene standards at all times.
We have taken the proactive decision to minimise the risk of infection by introducing remote working for the majority of our office based employees and new shift patterns for teams in branches. Operating in this way will minimise exposure to other employees and so lowering the risk of infection, whilst allowing us to offer full support to our colleagues across the branch and dealer networks where supporting our customers remains our number one commitment,” stated the company’s press officer.