Thursday, August 28, 2014

Still Time for Road Haulage Outfits to Join Longer Freight Trailer Trial

New Tranche of Applications Available for One Month
Shipping News Feature

UK – More road haulage operators will be given the chance to join a trial to allow the use of longer trailers to transport goods on UK roads, in an attempt to see if it would reduce road miles significantly and potentially boost trade and industry. The government’s 10-year longer semi-trailer trial was launched in 2012 and enabled freight operators to bid for a share of 1,800 vehicle allocations, but not all of the slots were filled with only 750 allotted at the commencement of the trial.

Now, around 1,400 longer semi-trailers are on the road or under construction following another round of bids in 2013, with 400 allocations still available. Operators have 4 weeks from today (August 28) to apply for the remaining allocation and must use their allocation within 6 weeks. Both operators already in the trial and new hauliers can apply. The aim is to get the full quota of 1,800 on the road as quickly as possible. Transport Minister Claire Perry said:

“This is the last chance for freight operators to take part in a scheme that is helping hauliers boost trade and industry. Longer trailers allow companies to transport more goods, more efficiently and can have significant economic and environmental benefits. I’d like to see all of these allocations used so we can see fewer unnecessary journeys on our roads.”

The trial involves longer semi-trailers of 14.6 metres and 15.65 metres in length (17.5 metres and 18.55 metres total vehicle lengths respectively). Longer semi-trailers could provide significant economic and environmental benefits to the UK with the operational trial providing a real opportunity for industry to show the benefits these trailers can bring to the UK. Despite an oft quoted public misconception longer lorries do not mean more damage to road surfaces, with longer vehicles capable of carrying larger quantities of comparatively light goods and axle weights unaffected.

The trial is expected to save over 3,000 tonnes of CO2 over 10 years and the overall benefits are estimated at £33 million over the decade. James Hookham, the Freight Transport Association’s (FTA) Managing Director for policy and communications, said:

“The FTA supports the trial of longer semi-trailers as there are significant environmental and efficiency benefits on offer from deploying these vehicles. This is not a vehicle for all sectors and will be most beneficial on journeys where the goods carried are high volume, low weight as vehicle fill can be improved.

“The results of the trial so far have been encouraging and we are keen that those operators who can put these trailers into use on work for which they are suitable should be able to do so. This process for reallocating unused permits should help operators to do that, thus securing an essential contribution to industry’s carbon reduction programme.

The trial is also cutting traffic and carbon emissions. The second annual report on the trial of longer semi-trailers published in June 2014 shows that between 600,000 and 900,000 vehicle kilometres have been saved by use of the longer semi-trailers in the trial so far. Jack Semple Director of Policy at the Road Haulage Association (RHA) said:

“This [extension] is a very welcome announcement, especially the department’s approach in offering the same opportunity to every haulier, regardless the size of the fleet. Every firm has had the chance to assess whether it should invest in the longer trailers and the RHA’s LST helpline is available to members with any outstanding queries.”

Photo: Wincanton was one of the first operators to trial the longer trailers.