Longer lorry trailers 'cut millions of haulage miles'

9 November 2020

The UK government has launched two consultations into green haulage methods that could boost haulier productivity and reduce emissions. 

The Department for Transport (DfT) launched a consultation into whether longer semi-trailers (LSTs) should be allowed to permanently operate on UK roads after trials showed their use had reduced haulage miles, emissions and accidents.

LSTs are longer and lighter than conventional heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and carry three more rows of supermarket goods cages on each journey compared with existing trailers.

Trials of LSTs, which have been underway in the UK since 2012, have shown that they’ve saved lorry drivers travelling millions of miles. In the last year, the 2,600 vehicles involved in the trial saved lorry drivers 33.5m miles and 48,000 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to taking over 20,000 cars off the road. 

The results also showed LSTs were involved in fewer personal injury collisions compared with standard size HGVs.

Grant Shapps, transport secretary, said: “Our freight industry keeps the country moving, delivering vital goods and services every single day – which, as we all know, has never been more important than it is now, during the pandemic.

“These trials clearly show the benefits for business and the environment of using longer trailers. By determining the next steps to get them on our roads permanently, we can benefit industry and our economy, boost safety and cut emissions.”

Phil Lloyd, head of engineering policy at Logistics UK, said: “An industry trial earlier has shown the benefits to the environment and the economy on the use of LSTs, and with the ability to carry more goods per journey than traditional trailers, they present a cost-efficient, environmentally prudent alternative to current transportation options – it is good news that the government has taken heed of the findings. 

“If our industry can move the same amount of goods with fewer journeys, the environment, the economy and other road users will benefit.”

Separately, the DfT is also launching a consultation on proposals to start a trial of heavier HGVs on UK roads, which could see the maximum weight of some HGVs increased by four tonnes to 48 tonnes.

The proposed trial would operate on 10 routes cleared as safe for use by 48-tonne vehicles and would allow lorries to transport heavier containers directly to or from freight trains, shifting more cargo from road-only journeys onto rail, cutting emissions and congestion on roads, the DfT said.

Lloyd added: “Currently the maximum laden weight for a six-axle articulated lorry on the roads of Great Britain is 44 tonnes. Allowing a 48-tonne operation would therefore enable a reduction in the number of journeys required to service each train, resulting in reduced road congestion and lower emissions.” 

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