Making the links: promoting supply chain access


18 May
11:00 to 12:30
Hall 3, Level +1

Supply chains have come under heavy pressure during the last years due to demand and supply shocks related to the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and events such as the grounding of a container ship in the Suez Canal. These supply chain disruptions have brought several issues to the forefront in different transport sectors. A major challenge in maritime transport was the difficulty of getting crews changed, resulting in many seafarers remaining on board much longer than allowed. Passenger traffic almost disappeared during the pandemic in rail transport, providing the opportunity for rail freight to show its resilience and capacity to maintain supply chains. In truck transport, driver shortages appeared, especially in places where drivers – paid per mile - no longer found it profitable to provide their services in areas with long waiting times. A common solution to disruption in all transport sectors was increased co-operation between main stakeholders in the supply chain and between governments in the case of cross-border traffic. 


Supply chains clearly affected the transport workforce. Livia Spera (European Transport Workers Federation) remarked that there is no shortage of transport workers, but a shortage of decent transport work. She also noted that too much transport work has become outsourced and become invisible, for example, via flags of convenience in shipping. In aviation, there now appears to be a shortage of ground handlers, but that is also because governments allowed companies to fire 40% of their workforce in 2020. Carlo Borghini (EU Joint Rail Undertaking) noted that digitalisation and automation discussions need to take account of the human factor: what are capacities workforce are needed to make digitalisation work? Luisa Puccio (ECSA) indicated the need for a skills transition necessary to facilitate decarbonisation. She also stressed the importance of recognising transport workers as crucial workers, essential for the mobility and vaccination of transport workers.


The supply chain disruption also highlighted inefficiencies in transport chains. Hanan Fridman (Trucknet) noted that 30% of the truck trips are empty; digitalisation could help solve these inefficiencies and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from trucking. Marcel Huschebecke (PTV Group) said that data exist relevant for routing decisions, such as waiting time at the borders and estimated times of arrivals, but all modes – rail, road and shipping - need to be a part of the data ecosystem. Digital solutions could also help to promote inter-modality, which could reduce the emissions of freight transport. A challenge related to inter-modality could be vertical integration by dominant transport operators, limiting the choice of inter-modal transport options.



Marcel Huschebeck

Principal Logistics Research

PTV Group

Luisa Puccio

Director for Shipping and Trade Policy

European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA)

Livia Spera

General Secretary

European Transport Workers’ Federation

Hanan Fridman



Carlo Borghini

Executive Director

Europe’s Rail Joint Undertaking

Making the links: promoting supply chain access