43-44/2020 Of viruses and bacteria
The ongoing downturn has prompted some of us to turn their eyes away from the skies – where there are now hardly any condensation trails testifying to transport activities anyway – and to stick their heads in the sand. We can join them for a moment and take a look underground, where Jules Verne (‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’, 1864) and Herbert George Wells (‘The War of the Worlds‘, 1898) already discerned potential new scope for the development of the human race.
We’ve previously already reported on ‘Cargo sous Terrain’, a project to connect production and logistics locations with conurbations in Switzerland by tunnels from 2031 onwards. Two other subterranean projects joined the fray recently. At the end of September the enterprise ‘Smart City Loop’, having submitted a feasibility study, received support from Hamburg’s department of the economy and for innovation, to start further planning and preparatory tasks for the construction of a tube system for logistics on the second-last mile. Segro, in turn, is set to develop no less than 75,000 m2 of subterranean logistics areas in southeastern Paris by 2025, designed to serve the last mile in one of Europe’s most densely-populated cities.
Both Paris and Hamburg have (again) witnessed a particularly large number of Covid-19 infections of late. The impact on public life, trade and industry, transport and logistics, of measures to contain the outbreaks, are enormous. In the world’s largest (economic) power, two ‘old white men’ have entered the home stretch of the presidential election and are trying – more or less out of puff – to reach the finishing line first. The USA is in the shadow of the pandemic too, however. How the national aviation industry, which has been suffering heavily since March from the collapse of the global flow of traffic, will pull its head out of the noose remains open to question. Many of the support measures and funds established by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (Cares Act) to counter the economic downturn are expiring in October. Now American Airlines and United Airlines have started laying off around 32,000 employees. The Democrats in opposition have made it clear to president Donald Trump that they will not vote in favour of Covid-19 relief for the aviation industry without an overall economic stimulus programme. All we can do is wait and see how things develop after 3 November. The solution to our problems may lie where no one would have thought. In H.G. Wells’ novel it was bacteria, of all things, that put paid to the extraterrestrial invaders.
In the meantime, do enjoy our stories from the world of transport and logistics!