Transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced eight freight firms have been lined up to help ship critical goods like medicine across the channel in the event of a no deal.
The freight procurement framework will be in place for the next four years and will help speed up procurement processes after 31 October, when the UK could leave the European Union, the DfT said.
A competition has been launched allowing operators on the framework to bid for the first freight capacity contracts for 31 October – equivalent to thousands of HGVs per week.
Operators on the framework will be able to bid for freight capacity contracts as and when they are needed.
The announcement follows the previous disastrous attempts by the DfT to secure extra freight capacity in the event of a no deal, which cost scores of millions through a series of failures including compensation payments to rival bids after Seaborne Freight - 'the ferry company with no ships' - won potential work.
The DfT said that this time 'each bid was marked against strict criteria, including proven capability to manage high quality projects and experience in freight operation'.
It added that 'procuring the framework has not yet committed the government to spending any taxpayers’ money'.
Mr Shapps said: 'Preparations to leave the EU on the 31 October are continuing at pace and we will do whatever it takes to ensure the flow of life-saving medicines into the UK.
'This framework guarantees long-term national resilience and I’m confident the combined expertise of these high quality and experienced firms appointed to the framework will ensure we are ready for Brexit day and beyond.'
The competitions will focus on ports and terminals away from areas forecast as most likely for potential disruption, the DfT said.
The freight terminals of Dover, Calais, Dunkirk, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Folkestone, Coquelles, and Barking are not included, as a result.
'The risk and impact of disruption at these ports and terminals caused by a potential lack of trader readiness could affect the flow of vital goods,' the government conceded.
The operators added to the framework are:
- Air Charter Services Ltd
- Brittany Ferries
- DFDS A/S
- Irish Ferries Ltd
- P&O Ferries Division Holdings Ltd
- Seatruck Ferries Ltd
- The Channel Tunnel Group Ltd (Eurotunnel)
- Stena Line Ltd