Robust testing among hauliers of software to avoid long queues and checks at the border before the end of the Brexit transition period is looking increasingly remote, freight groups have warned.

With just over 100 days until the country cuts its ties with the EU, the industry is becoming increasingly concerned that so-called smart freight software – which is required to be used by every company involved in exporting goods to the continent – will not be ready for adequate testing and staff training.

The RHA, as well as Logistics UK and other industry bodies, have now written to cabinet minister Michael Gove, demanding a meeting over what it described as “potential Brexit chaos” and the need to speed up smart freight development.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said there was “a range of critical issues” that needed addressing by the government if it wanted goods moving across the borders in January: “The government’s pace is simply too slow on this and that’s why we – the people who run the UK’s supply chain – need an urgent meeting with those at the top of government dealing with Brexit preparations,” he said.

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The FTA said some of the systems being developed to ensure seamless trading were progressing well; however, it was concerned that the smart freight system would not be ready.

Sarah Laouadi, European policy manager at Logistics UK, said: “Despite the government’s assertion that the smart freight software will be ready before 1 January 2021, this timeline fails to take into account the time it will take for transport companies, their customers, subcontractors and customs intermediaries to agree and co-ordinate the necessary business processes at the right time to gain access to the border.

“We are concerned that mass user testing of the software will not be possible until October – or maybe even November: this is far too late for the thousands of companies and tens of thousands of people who build our complex supply chains to redesign their own processes and contractual relations before the transition period ends.”

Earlier this week, the MD of Europa Worldwide Group rejected claims that operators were facing major disruption at the channel ports. Andrew Baxter told “All this talk of queues and backlogs is massively overstated and I don't really believe that will be an issue when the transition period ends.”