Trucking Britain out of Covid-19 panel reports majority of trucks still running


Hauliers across the UK have reported that the majority of their fleet is still up and running.

To measure the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the transport and distribution industry, Transport News (with its sister titles) has put together a panel of operators across the UK to give regular feedback on their volume of work and vehicles laid up.

This sample of nine operators run a total of 7,958 trucks on March 23 and by May 4, six weeks into lockdown, 5,823 (73%) were still on the road.

Derek Mitchell, managing director of Caledonian Logistics, said at the start of lockdown it was operating ‘60 HGVs, 14 3.5-tonne curtainsiders and 85 trailers’. He continued: ‘In the six weeks since, we have been operating 90% of the HGVs, 85% of the 3.5 tonners and about 80% of the trailers.

‘Our four distribution depots in Scotland cover half of the geographical area of Scotland including offshore islands. We also have a distance division of 20 HGVs covering part and full loads all over the UK (see current issue of Transport News).

‘Between March 23 and May 4 pallet distribution was down 30%. Loads south are OK but the back loading from south to north did dry up. Storage was down about 10%.’

Mick Doe, the transport operations director at Clipper Logistics, run 13 transport operations in the UK in retail fashion and high value goods working across the whole supply chain. ‘With all stores closing over the weekend of 21 March volumes went from the usual seasonal levels to zero with product stored at various points through the supply chain.

‘The only activity we are completing for our current customer base is to recover product from stores back to the DCs to feed an uplift in ecommerce sales,’ he said. ‘We have around 450 vehicles and 200 trailers and are still operating 75% of our vehicles.’

Lesley O’Brien is a partner at Freightlink Europe, a UK general haulage transport operator based in Bradford, West Yorkshire specialising in UK-wide collections and distribution.

‘During the last week of March business was buoyant. Our mixed fleet of 24 vehicles (14 rigids and 10 artics) and 16 trailers was working to capacity. Indeed, we took on three additional box vehicles in order to meet customer demand and these were operating seven days per week. Operationally it was one of our best months of the year.

‘As the UK entered lockdown, businesses closed and supermarket replenished stocks, we saw volumes drop considerably. By 4 May, eight of our rigids and two of our articulated vehicles were standing, representing 40% of our fleet.’

Share this story