The 2020 global economic slump is playing out differently than most economic downturns, as travel and transport restrictions were deemed by governments around the world as an appropriate measure to control COVID-19. This measure particularly impacted Europe.
As a result, barriers to trade grew, especially for road and air freight, restricting free movement of goods. Flight cancellations have affected the cost of air freight, much of which is transported in the belly of passenger planes, with rates rising from $2-3 per kilo to $9-11, says Vaughn Moore of ait Worldwide Logistics, a freight-forwarding company, to the Economist.
Borders along roadways have become harder to cross as countries throughout Europe placed spontaneous restrictions on free movement. Where certain exceptions for good transports were made, implementation and enforcement issues led to queues on roads that stretched for many kilometres. Even Umberto de Pretto of the International Road Transport Union admitted to the Economist that blockings hit the road transport industry.
On the other hand, rail transport, remained operational throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As we have seen from our own experience at GATX Rail Europe, limited interpersonal contact throughout the entire rail system allowed rail freight transport to continue to effectively flow – even cross-border. This benefited customers who had decided to shift their transports from air and road to rail before the virus outbreak.
At GATX Rail Europe, we are doing our part to help our customers keep goods flowing throughout Europe. Our goal is to make railcar leasing easier and be a reliable partner.