The pressure is high

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Glasgow is a city which has been crying out for development, according to its councillors, and with the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games descending on the city, hopes are high for that little concept called legacy. Johanna Parsons reports. 

The Commonwealth Games run for just ten days from 23rd July. Not only are Glaswegians hoping that investment following the games will leave behind marked improvements to housing, healthcare and infrastructure, but also that all this development will happen without disrupting the usual rhythms of business and daily life. That’s a pretty big ask.

“We’ve struck gold for Glasgow but the hard work starts from here,” said Steven Purcell, leader of Glasgow City Council when the city was announced as the 2014 hosts of the games, way back in 2007.

And there have been examples of how that has already paid off, such as the completion project for the final stretch of the M74 which is expected to take around 20,000 vehicles per day off the M8.

But there has been criticism that that work did not start early enough, at least from a freight and logistics perspective. And this has caused all the more frustration because an effective template for such plans was laid down in London as recently as the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.

It is true that some lessons from that experience certainly have been use. DB Schenker was awarded the contract to act as the official logistics provider for the Games, and Andy Blundell, operations manager overseeing the projects in the city, says that many of the venue specific or Games time access arrangements are in accordance with what was implemented for London 2012.

For example, he says that each logistics operator must comply with the “6 keys to the gate” to access Games venues during games time periods. These keys include being scheduled to access the venues through the master delivery schedule, the driver having the relevant accreditation pass, the vehicle having the relevant pass and the vehicle driver completing screening prior to venue access.

But timing seems to be the crucial point on which Glasgow’s planning has not been up to scratch. “A noticeable difference between Glasgow and London is such that the venues at Glasgow go into ‘lock down’ or ‘6 keys’ come into effect a lot later in the timeline of the event,” says Blundell.

And that’s significant. Chris MacRae
head of policy for the Scotland
Freight Transport Association agrees that timing is probably the most important difference between the planning for the Glasgow and the London games. Specifically concerning the availability of information on route plans and restrictions.

“We’ve pressed from the word go for early information,” But he says there have been issues. After extensive lobbying, by March the FTA felt the need to deliver a 50 day ultimatum to the Games organisers asking for published detailed information.

While most data is now, at time of writing, available on the Glasgow 2014 website, he says that it would perhaps have been more helpful and easier for operators to work with if it had been available sooner; “it has come pretty late in the day which has caused concern.”

“The Olympic Route Network, timelines, traffic management plans and restrictions for event days were 80 – 90 per cent known by March time, whereas we had almost nothing by that stage,” says MacRae.

MacRae also points out that the bureaucratic infrastructure of the city itself presents extra challenges for freight planning in Glasgow. Whereas London had LOCOG and Transport for London on hand with the experience and resources to monitor, plan and communicate the most significant changes and challenges well ahead of time, there is no equivalent body in Glasgow.

The council has had to adapt and grow its website to accommodate Games information as best it can, but it has no dedicated freight body, and no special knowledge or skills related to transport or distribution. They are doing their best says MacRae, but in effect all they can offer is “’travel advice for the freight industry’ – that term is actually used” says MacRae with some exasperation.

In that vacuum, the FTA is stepping into the breach, with a website that digests the data freight operators will need, displays relevant information and links to the Glasgow council website in so as to make the onslaught of data somewhat more navigable.

Having successfully lobbied for its establishment, The FTA is also chairing the Freight Working Group for the Games, which involves trade bodies like BIFA, and the RHA, and logistics operators including Menzies, John G Russell, Malcolm Group, DHL, UPS as well as DB Schenker.

Interestingly, the timeline of this group’s progress highlights the disparity in timing between the two games. Both the London and Glasgow games are due to kick off towards the end of July, the 27th and 23rd respectively, but while the Glasgow freight Working Group had its first meeting in March, London’s organisers were on their third meeting by that point in 2012.

It is of course in our industry’s best interests to pay attention to anticipate and avoid any disruptions. And the consensus is that everyone has worked together to get the best results possible despite the delays.

Blundell explains how DB Schenker has helped the various logistics firms co-operating to cope with the extra requirements of such an event. “Health & Safety regulations have also developed at venues in regards to deliveries and onsite logistical operations, with venues operating under construction design & management regulations.

“CDM requirements are something in which logistical operators would not necessarily be prepared for or come across in previous operations and would be something they would have to adapt to ensure completion of works. This will include augmentation of competencies internally (training & certification) and preparation of documentation controlling works (Safe system of works),” he says.

And individual firms have been ploughing extra resources into service for the games, with a keen eye on end users – 75 per cent of Glaswegians say they’re concerned about increased traffic as a result of the event, according to the official Impact Assessment.


Route network

Parcel delivery firm Yodel for example has, like the FTA, mapped a complete route network of the Games, highlighting the affected postcodes and developed a strategy to provide its retail clients and their customers with the best possible service in the run up to and during the event.

Dick Stead, executive chairman of Yodel said: “The summer is a key time for our retail clients, with seasonal sales creating spikes in orders… It’s therefore vital that we have contingency plans in place to keep everyone informed.”

And the delivery of newspapers which presented challenges in London has been a particular challenge for the 11 day event. Early information suggested the impact of restrictions could be far greater than in London, because so many events are taking place in a relatively small area between the East End and the SECC which houses the new Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome, Emirates Arena, Glasgow Green and Celtic Park.

Menzies Distribution, the major distributor of newspapers, identified that around 600 of its customers were likely to be directly impacted by the GRN. These customers are situated on 30 of the company’s main delivery routes.

Menzies’ Games planner Grant Keogh said: “It’s all about preparation when it comes to the Games, as we know first-hand from our experience at the London Olympics.

From a Linwood control centre he and his team map out venues for event days and restrictions, as well as routes and businesses affected as information is released from organisers.

“Good logistics firms with a supply chain requirement in Glasgow should be advising and supporting their customers during the games, ensuring that products are delivered as timely and efficiently as possible.”

But again, timing is key. As far back as April Keogh was advising businesses that want to avoid delays to start speaking to their delivery and logistics firms now to plan around the games.

Indeed, MacRae points out that the main problem may be engaging those who create the demand for freight, for whom road restrictions may seem to be “not my problem”.

In particular, MacRae gives the example of the Merchant City area of Glasgow, a previously rundown section of the city which has been redeveloped into a vibrant business district with a lively shopping, dining and pubbing scene.

It just so happens that the Merchant City’s annual festival coincides with the Games, which should create a unique and buzzing party atmosphere, but could equally mean a massive headache for the people delivering the beer and burgers.

Access will be limited, and delivery will be permitted in pre-booked slots, but the challenge is getting the pubs, restaurants and shops to engage with the process, and ideally to put their heads together to get multiple deliveries from each load and limit freight movements.

This kind of collaboration may well seem a pipedream, but with all that potential to make the party swing and the tills ring, contrasted with the prospect of empty shelves, larders and pumps, there might be enough of a combined carrot and stick effect to make the impossible happen.

And this would be the kind of legacy that will really improve the way a city like Glasgow runs, for the environment, for Glaswegians, and freight operators alike.



The main track and field events will be held at Hampden Park, the venerable national football stadium. The playing surface has been raised by 1.9 metres to transform the stadium from a football venue into an Track and Field facility. A warm-up track and jump areas has been created next to the stadium at Lesser Hampden.

But the opening ceremony will take place in the east end of the city, at Celtic Park to be precise. This has the advantage that it is next door to the athletes village.

And just over the road from Celtic Park is the Emirates Arena including the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.

Celtic’s rivals, Rangers, are also involved in the games. Ibrox Stadium on the west side of the city will host the Rugby Sevens competition.

The SECC Precinct will form the largest venue precinct of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. It will host the competitions for six sports – Gymnastics, Boxing, Judo, Netball, Wrestling and Weightlifting/Powerlifting. During Games Time it will also be the home of the International Broadcast Centre and Main Press Centre.

Other venues include: Glasgow National Hockey Centre, Kelvingrove Lawn Bowls Centre, Royal Commonwealth Pool, Scotstoun Sports Campus, Strathclyde Country Park, Tollcross International Swimming Centre and Glasgow City Road Courses.



CASE STUDY: Menzies’ action plan for papers

Menzies’ plans to ensure businesses receive their deliveries and stock on time during the 11 days of the Games are based on the successful implementation of a special ‘Games’ strategy established by Menzies Distribution during the London 2012 Olympic Games. This saw the business achieve a 100 per cent on-time delivery rate, despite the congestion.

Specific plans to ensure smooth deliveries during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games include:

  • introduction of extra vehicles during the Games period
  • on-going monitoring of traffic congestion to ensure drivers can avoid the busiest routes
  • regular analyses of sales data to ensure that retailers in particular can respond to increases in demand for magazines and newspapers from customers
  • the introduction of a special Commonwealth ‘control centre’ in Menzies Distribution’s Linwood offices, just outside of the city
  • ensuring all drivers hold suitable photo ID and documentation to allow quicker access through checkpoints to help keep deliveries moving.

 Originally printed in Logistics Manager 08/2014

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