Medical drone deliveries and transport volunteers announced to help secure supply chains. Transport secretary admits operators are ‘facing challenges as fewer people travelling means less capacity to move goods’
Trials of drones delivering vital medical supplies and funding for freight services have been announced in a multi-million pound package to protect the the UK’s supply chains during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ministers said the cash injection will ensure the critical supply of goods into and around the country during the covid-19 lockdown while thousands of volunteers are on standby to aid frontline services.
#TheDepartmentforTransport (DfT) said up to 31 supply routes are eligible for support, with up to £17m available for those between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, and up to £10.5m for ferry and freight services to the Isle of Wight and Scilly Isles.
The department added the new trial of drones between the mainland and St Mary’s Hospital on the #IsleofWight will “help ensure it is equipped to tackle the virus”.
Further support is available for critical routes between Britain and European member states – including the #Eurotunnel. Light rail systems in #Manchester, #Sheffield, the #WestMidlands, #Nottingham and #TyneandWear will also be given government support.
Cabinet minister Grant Shapps said a new #TransportSupportUnit will see thousands of volunteers and vehicles placed on standby to assist frontline responders during the crisis.
Speaking on Friday, the transport secretary said: “Essential supplies are continuing to flow well, but operators are facing challenges as fewer people travelling means less capacity to move goods.
“Today’s action will help ensure all parts of the UK have the capacity they need and, following on from our action to support the rail and bus sectors, it shows how this government is acting to protect the transport links the country relies on.”