Use trains to bring in food, govt urged

The government has been urged to consider using trains to transport food from Guangdong, after more cross-border truck drivers came down with Covid-19 and their colleagues were put into quarantine.

The proposal was made on an RTHK programme on Friday by Ambrose Linn, a former member of the Hong Kong Logistics Development Council.

He noted there are plans for Guangdong to send fresh food by sea, but said the ports in Hong Kong may not have the capacity to unload the goods fast enough.

Linn said trains are much easier to operate.

“They can put many carts in. If one cart is about the size of a 40-foot container, the volume and flexibility are much better. And a train only needs one or two captains to operate. For passenger trains, they have to assign staff at each compartment, but for cargo trains they don’t need them,” he said.

“Just load the goods in Guangdong and lock up the carts. and open them for customs clearance when they arrive in Hong Kong,” said Linn.

He said frozen goods or even live poultry can be transported by train.

He acknowledged that it may be more expensive than using ships or trucks, because the train compartments would have to be modified, but said such an arrangement could be used as a contingency measure.

Meanwhile, the government issued a statement on Friday saying fresh food supply from the mainland had further increased.

A spokesman said vegetables from the mainland that went through wholesale markets stood at about 13,010 piculs on Thursday – that’s around 90 percent of the volume of a normal day.

The overall wholesale price continued to drop.

The supply of chilled poultry and meat imported also increased to around 70 percent of that of a normal day.