The closure of the Forth Bridge is costing logistics operations thousands of pounds a week as a result of the re-routing of their vehicles, according to the Freight Transport Association.
The bridge was closed after an unsafe crack in its steelwork was found. Kindcardine Bridge, the closest alternative crossing, adds 40 miles to a journey. When the Forth Bridge first closed, 11-mile queues took place at Kindcardine Bridge.
The FTA said that vans are now able to ‘use the dedicated HGV/buses-only corridor on the A985,’ adding that it had previously been feared “HGVs would still have to use the alternative route”.
“Our operating costs have increased by £11,000 per week – this is massive for us,” said an FTA member. “The costs includes compensation for extra mileage to self-employed drivers and employing additional staff to cover left over stops from existing drivers who have less time to deliver due to driving back and forth.”
Another FTA member said: “If you consider that in recent days we have run between 20 and 40 vehicles a day, in rough terms it is costing us between two and four thousand pounds per day.”
“This is not just a problem for our Scottish members, it is having an impact throughout the UK and the priority must be to get the bridge open to all traffic as soon as possible,” said FTA director of policy, Karen Dee. “The Forth Road Bridge is vital to our national roads infrastructure and using alternatives is adding time and cost to our members who operate on very tight margins,
“Their contracts have all been agreed on the assumption of using the bridge so a 50-mile detour is significant.”
Transport Scotland has said that the bridge will be open again in time for the ‘New Year return to work.’
Leaked email causes controversy
A leaked email, addressed to the convener of the Forth Estuary Transport Authority, told of the necessity for repairs in February this year, it has been widely reported. The transport authority was in charge of the bridge at the beginning of the year.
The alleged email, which reportedly was sent by chief engineer Barry Colford, said that it was necessary for a restraint on loads of an “abnormal” size until the Bridge’s links had been made stronger.
Scottish Labour has called for an inquiry into why key maintenance was cancelled on the bridge in 2010, why two senior engineers resigned from the bridge earlier this year and why repairs identified in 2007 by Transport Scotland were not carried out.
Deputy leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Alex Rowley, said: “Transport authorities need to be well resourced for the challenges we face over the next month and potentially beyond – but we also need full and frank answers on what has gone wrong here,
“There appear to be a string of issues around the Forth Road Bridge going back years. We need answers as to what has gone wrong here.”
“We have seen two senior engineers resign over the bridge and a third claim that key maintenance work was mothballed five years ago.
“This is a serious issue that we need answers from. No stone should be left unturned.
“After eight years in government the SNP need to be held accountable for their decisions and with a majority in parliament there is no excuse for them not to back our call for a parliamentary inquiry.”