Britain’s Department for Transport (DfT) says longer goods vehicles could become a permanent fixture on UK roads next year, following a survey.
The news comes as the DfT publishes its response to consultation on the introduction of longer semi-trailers (LSTs), for which the majority of respondents were in favour.
It follows a nine-year trial of the vehicles – which can be up to 15.65m metres in length.
It is estimated LSTs could remove up to one in eight freight journeys by carrying the same amount of cargo in fewer lorries. This would support the government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan by reducing mileage, congestion and carbon emissions.
Following the trial and consultation, the Department for Transport will now consider the use of LSTs on Britain’s roads outside trial conditions and the vehicles could be rolled out at some point in 2022.
“This government is committed to fighting climate change and decarbonising our transport network and we are working at pace to achieve net zero by 2050,” said British Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps.
How well do you really know your competitors?
Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.
Your download email will arrive shortly
Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample
We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below formBy GlobalData
“[The] announcement is a vital step forwards as we work to introduce more environmentally friendly freight to our roads and build back greener.”
Some 57% of those surveyed in the government consultation felt LSTs should be in general circulation and could see the positive effects the move would have on both the road haulage industry and Britain’s efforts to fight against climate change.
The nine-year trial saw a reduction in the number of lorries making journeys across the country, with an average 8% reduction in miles covered by freight, as well as a 6.2% fall in pollutants expelled. It also found the use of LSTs cut the number of road traffic collisions, resulting from fewer journeys being made.
While the trial showed the use of LSTs caused fewer collisions, additional mitigations are under review to ensure hauliers and road users are kept safer.
The government will also soon launch a separate trial using heavier-than-normal, 48-tonne lorries, following a positive response from the consultation on their introduction. These trucks will be able to transport heavier containers directly to and from rail depots, so goods can be carried across the country by train.
The DfT maintains currently, the maximum weight of a lorry (44 tonnes) makes it difficult to carry heavier materials to rail depots, meaning goods are dispersed between more lorries to be taken to their end destination by road. Taking more goods in heavier trucks to rail depots to be transported by train will help reduce congestion across and reduce emissions.
The trial would ensure these heavier lorries are only used on specific routes and would limit their use to a maximum journey length.