THE immediate causes of the lorry driver shortage are clear – Brexit (although denied by the Government), Covid-19, and unsatisfactory working conditions for many drivers.
But a more fundamental question is why do we need so many HGV drivers? And the answer is there are too many large trucks on our roads.
The reasons for this are the wholesale closure of railway lines in the 1960s, coupled with inadequate support by successive governments for rail freight, and road transport being heavily subsidised through low road tax rates. This has resulted in far too much freight on the roads and not enough on the railway.
Freight trains are much safer than lorries and much more environmentally friendly.
A large modal shift of freight from air and road to rail will help the UK achieve national carbon targets which are the minimum required to tackle the climate emergency.
To achieve this, we should reopen three of the trans-Pennine railway routes that closed following the Beeching cuts: Woodhead; Skipton to Colne and either Northallerton-Garsdale or Darlington-Barnard Castle-Appleby-Keswick-Workington.
We need a mass programme of railway electrification, including all freight routes, the connecting of supermarket, logistics, parcels and mail depots to rail wherever possible and a requirement that such new developments are rail-served.
We also need to develop parcels hubs in or near all medium-sized towns, and restore the trunk haulage of mail by rail. Doing any of these would reduce the demand for HGV drivers. Doing all of them would reduce that demand considerably, and in doing so, make a sizeable contribution to tackling the climate emergency.
From: Peter Rickaby, West Park, Selby.
THE Government expects us to believe that by working from home civil servants’ ability to perform is not impaired. If this is so, why are thousands of applications for HGV licences and renewals in their in-trays?
From: Terry Palmer, South Lea Avenue, Hoyland, Barnsley.
EVERYBODY seems to blaming the Government for HGV driver shortages. Who employs these drivers? Not the government, but hauliers who should have had their ‘eye on the ball’, certainly since 2016. But, of course, it’s always easy to blame someone else.
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