Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Government Allows Longer Trucks in Bid to Reduce Road Haulage Freight Movements

Ten Year Trial Means Two Metre Longer Lorries
Shipping News Feature

UK – Following the consultation concluded recently the Government announced today they will allow an increase in lorry dimensions in order to reduce the amount of road haulage movements by increasing the volume of freight it is possible to load per truck. The Department for Transport is allowing a ten-year trial of up to 900 trailers at an increased length of 2.05 metres, and 900 at an increase of one metre. The longer lorries will operate within the existing weight limit of 44 tonnes and Roads Minister, Mike Penning commented:

"The road haulage industry is vital to the growth of our economy. By allowing companies to use one truck where they may have previously needed to send two, we can help the sector improve efficiency and save money – which should in turn benefit consumers.

"Independent research showed the potential environmental, safety and congestion benefits of longer trailers and this voluntary trial will give industry the opportunity to demonstrate how this works in practice. The trial will be subject to rigorous annual assessments and will be closely and independently monitored throughout so that any concerns are addressed quickly.

" The consultation responses indicated that haulage operators would like the option to choose between different trailer lengths depending on the type of operation they are carrying out. The changes would make the total permitted length for articulated lorries 18.55 metres; the current maximum length for lorries using a truck and drawbar trailer is 18.75 metres. The Government has ruled out any further increase in length. Larger lorries have been known to cause controversy when operators have tried to circumvent the rules in the past.

Current UK regulations limit the maximum loading length of semi-trailers to 13.6 metres. Under the trial, the Department will be permitting the limited use of semi-trailers with a maximum loading length up to 15.65 metres. This is the same loading length currently allowed for rigid truck / drawbar trailer combination vehicles. The maximum permitted length of articulated lorries drawing the longer semi-trailers will be 18.55 metres. This compares to 18.75 metres for the rigid truck / drawbar trailer combination vehicles mentioned above.

The research published in March showed the Department for Transport estimates that this move could increase capacity for hauliers transporting lightweight goods by up to 13% and cut carbon emissions by around one hundred thousand tonnes each year. Research also confirmed that, with no increase in allowable weights, it was not expected there would be any additional pressure on road surfaces.

The Government ruled out the use of so called ‘Gigaliners’ with longer lorry combinations and also consulted on the possibility of increasing the length of cabs to allow a more aerodynamic frontal design. However, it was clear from the consultation that there is unlikely to be significant commercial demand for aerodynamic frontal designs at present therefore the Government does not intend to take this any further at this time, but says it will keep the situation under review.

One company which has welcomed the news is Northern Irish trailer manufacturer SDC which has been testing three extended trailer types in anticipation of the changes. Managing Director Mark Cuskeran commented:

"The trial is an important milestone for the UK trailer industry and the road haulage sector as a whole. Trailer manufacturers don’t usually get a chance like this to make a real and tangible environmental difference to the sector. Our recent developments now put us in a strong position to meet demand from operators wishing to take part in the trial and believe that puts us ahead of the game.”