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Vital routes for supplies and people kept open through Coronavirus support package

30th April, 2020

As part of its wider efforts to support the transport industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has announced a series of measures to protect vital trade routes.

These trade routes include both those within the UK and between the UK and the European Union. 

The aim of these measures is to ensure the uninterrupted supply of critical goods to and within the UK.  The measures are part of a collaborative effort between the UK, Irish and French Governments to ensure that existing trade routes can continue to deliver vital goods and services, as they did prior to the pandemic.

For this reason, the following trade routes have been identified for support;  

  • 7 routes between the UK mainland and Northern Ireland have been allocated an additional £17 million in funding; 
  • Routes to the Isle of Wight and the Penzance-Scilly ferry service have been allocated £10.5 million in additional funding; 
  • 26 routes between the UK and mainland Europe, including those to France (including the Eurotunnel), Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden have also been allocated additional funding; 

Those operators driving between the UK and France should also be aware that they must have a Certificate for International Transport Workers, due to recent changes announced by the French government.  All travellers in to France will be required to present the certificate in order to show that their journey meets the condition of “essential travel”.  The form can be found here.  Once completed the certificate must be carried in hard copy format for all journeys. 

The French authorities have confirmed that those operators conducting road transport do not need the international attestation that is required for individuals travelling to France.  However, operators will still need to produce the International Travel Certificate to Mainland France. 

The changes have been made in an effort to prevent non-essential travel into France. 

The Government has also pledged its support to the light rail systems in Sheffield, Manchester, West Midlands, Nottingham and Tyne and Wear.  The Government intends to work with the relevant local authorities to establish what support is needed in these areas and how the Government can assist.  

The aim of the above measures is to ensure that transport services remain available to key workers and others who are unable to work from home, as well as to those travelling to and from hospitals and supermarkets. 

Further assistance will be provided to the NHS by means of a fast tracked trial into the use of drones to deliver medical supplies between the UK mainland and St Mary’s hospital on the Isle of Wight.   It is hoped that the use of the drones will enable the hospital to remain prepared against the spread of the virus.  The trials come after the allocation of £28 million earlier this year to Southampton and Portsmouth councils to promote a similar method of delivery, in line with a proposed future transport zone trial. 

Crucial to the Government’s plans to maintain transport routes throughout the pandemic is the establishment of a Transport Support Unit (TSU) to assist frontline responders throughout the UK. 

The TSU is a network of volunteers, vehicles, aircraft and ships from the transport sector which have been placed on standby and are ready to assist with essential transportation, for example the movement of medical supplies.  The provision of volunteers and vehicles has come from a variety of Government departments, including Highways England, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Network Rail and the Department for Transport. 

The DfT states that it has set up a dedicated email address ([email protected]) so that organisations requiring assistance such as that outlined above can directly contact the TSU. Operators are advised to regularly check the website for up-to-date guidance.

Tim Culpin


Email: [email protected]
Tel: 07776 210 621

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