Europe’s motorways, trunk roads and city streets are becoming more and more clogged as the truck and small transporter fleets continue to grow at an amazing pace. These modes of transport carry every kind of commodity you can think of, but in the meantime a large volume of “same-day delivery items” ordered online with the likes of Amazon and delivered by FedEx, UPS, DPD, DHL and and…
Road infrastructure can’t take it anymore
Are we facing an even greater traffic collapse than the one we presently are experiencing in many European cities and motorways?
When one compares the commercial traffic on German motorways for example, then it’s easy see that traffic comes to a long standstill more often. This is more apparent since the wall came down thirty years ago and traffic to and from the old Eastern European countries have multiplied at an enormous rate.
Commercial traffic, or better said, truck transports, have grown a thousand-fold whereas the road infrastructure has not kept pace. On the contrary, it has stagnated, with governments in most countries not having seen what would happen and not being interested in redesigning motorway or city roads.
The German government for example, should have concentrated already back in the sixties and seventies in getting goods traffic off the roads and onto the rails. It never happened, and the result is easy to see these days. Truck quest in the right-hand lanes, stretching more miles on end. Frustrated and tired drivers, late deliveries, and ever-increasing pollution problems.
Online orders require fast delivery
The population of any European country relies heavily on consumer goods being delivered fast to their tables. This demand has increased since the start-up of supermarket chains in Europe many years ago. Compared to the fifties and the early sixties, where “Mom & Pop” shops were the norm, today the countryside is littered with large supermarket chains, competing heavily with each other and having to offer a massive range of consumables to the public.
All of this has to be transported in some way or another. Mainly by road.
Since some years we have the Amazon’s of this world offering us a wonderful online opportunity to order consumer goods with an almost 24-hour delivery time slot. They are now being joined by the Chinese Alibaba group which is busy setting up distribution complexes within Europe.
Then we have DHL, DPD, UPS, FedEx and many others who are there to ensure that the 24-hour delivery schedule is kept. They operate with large fleets of delivery trucks, some their own and many franchised out to smaller operators. Their presence in towns and cities cannot be overlooked and because of the worsening road infrastructure, they more often than not, cannot deliver on time.
Are Drones and Flying Taxis the future solution?
Something will have to happen for sure!
As e-commerce takes over the world - our present traffic infrastructure will collapse even further. That may well end up with the likes of DHL and FedEx having to back out of towns and cities and only supply customers by means of “collection centres” situated outside rural areas. Will customers like that?
No, is the answer.
Drones will have to become a future means of cargo delivery. Many laugh at the idea, but the fact is that the development in this area is being pushed faster than politicians, road and town planners are even considering moving.
Freight agents and truckers are suffering under the stress being encountered with the problem. Large European trucking companies are finding it increasingly hard to attract employees to man their trucks. Long hours, traffic jams, no overnight parking spaces and relatively low salaries - all these factors put off many would-be applicants.
In an interview at the end of last year, the owner of Dachser, Bernhard Simon, one of Europe’s largest freight agents and trucking companies, was quoted as saying that he would never purchase anything through Amazon. He stated that the expansion of the same-day-delivery system is a deciding factor in Europe having to face closed motorways and city streets. Trucks carrying day-to-day consumer goods also have to deliver to the many supermarkets situated in town and city centres.
The problem gets worse and the solutions remain far away.
John Mc Donagh
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