The Freight Transport Association has stressed the importance of logistics to the success of the Olympics and the need for the public and customers to be aware of the demands the Games are placing on transport companies. The association also said that it is vital to find alternative ways of working and to see the challenges of the Games as an opportunity for innovation rather than an intrusion.
Natalie Chapman, FTA’s Head of Policy for London, gave evidence to the House of Commons Transport Committee’s inquiry into transport for the Olympics Inquiry yesterday (23 May), alongside representatives of London Councils, the Federation of Wholesale Distributors and the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association.
The inquiry was looking at the transport challenges posed by the Olympic and Paralympic Games, including the impact of Games Lanes and the Olympic Route Network on road transport in London. Also providing evidence were Justine Greening Secretary of State for Transport & Peter Hendy, Commissioner of Transport for London.
"We are pleased to assist the Transport Committee in its investigation into the robustness of transport arrangements for the Games. Without efficient logistics, there will be no Games. And without an appreciation of the likely disruption, Londoners and London’s business community will find it difficult to keep functioning. It is therefore important that everyone interested in making this summer a success is working together to ensure an efficient supply chain is maintained. There is a tendency not to notice freight until it doesn’t work, so the challenges of the next few months give the industry the ideal opportunity to showcase how effective and efficient it really is."
Natalie Chapman told the inquiry that the industry was largely prepared and ready for the challenge that the Games will pose. However, FTA members are concerned how those reliant on logistics are preparing and adapting for the challenges of the next few months. She also raised concerns regarding the additional costs that the industry will face in servicing customers during the Games. Many companies have had to hire in additional vehicles and drivers for the summer even if these do not foresee an increase in trade as productivity will slump due to a reduction in road speeds and an increase in congestion.
"The vast array of additional restrictions that will be implemented for the Olympics and Paralympics such as the Olympic Route Network, Games Lanes, banned turns and loading bans are likely to cause confusion even to drivers how know London’s streets like the back of their hand. We hope that the boroughs and Transport for London will take a sensible approach to enforcement and will focus their efforts on compliance and assisting drivers. We are of course delighted that the Mayor of London and the Secretary of State for Transport listened to FTA’s concerns on this issue and did not approve the increase in PCN levels to £200 as requested by London Councils and the Olympic Delivery Authority. However, if £130 fines are issued like confetti, we will as an industry, have a very big bill to pick up at the end of the summer.
She also talked about the legacy that the Games will give the industry including opportunities for night-time deliveries, the economic and environmental benefits of alternative deliveries, the relationships FTA has.
Ms Chapman concluded:
"In terms of profile and awareness, the freight and logistics industry has never had it so good. After being handed the baton of the Olympic Road Freight Management Programme from ODA, Peter Hendy, the Commissioner for Transport for London very quickly realised that some serious investment and resource was needed to provide the industry with the information it needed to plan for the Games. Over the last 18 months the Road Freight Management Programme has gone from strength to strength and thankfully we are a long way forward from where we were this time last year. The industry now has a dialogue with the very top level of TfL and FTA plans to maintain and build on this well founded relationship post Olympics."