Despite the news that operators of the Forth Road Bridge (@forthroadbridge) are to trial the reintroduction of HGVs to the Bridge, beginning at 23.00 on Thursday, 4 February until 04.00, 5 February, the Road Haulage Association is disappointed that the length of these trials has yet to be determined.
The trials will allow a limited number of HGVs to cross, but only on the northbound section of the Bridge and subject to weather conditions.
Commenting, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett (@RHARichardB) said: “Since the closure of this vital crossing on 4 December 2015, the financial impact on the thousands of hauliers who are either based in, or making regular journeys to Scotland has been massive. The Scottish government must find the funds to compensate those operators who, through no fault of their own, have found themselves out of pocket for several months. We understand the reason for the trials but remain concerned that only a limited number of HGVs will be able to cross and for a very short time period.
“It is essential that these trials bring a swift conclusion to the repair work that has been undertaken and that the Bridge is restored to full capacity as a matter of extreme urgency.”
The RHA estimates that since the Bridge was closed to all traffic on 4 December, the cost to the haulage industry amounts to over £37M.
“For the majority of hauliers, each additional cost incurred has to absorbed. Operating margins are already tight and every penny counts. Fuel already represents a third of a haulier’s costs. An extra, unplanned, fuel bill of £30 per round trip as a result of diversions, together with a higher wage bill as a result of extended journey times will inevitably mean disaster for many of the smaller hauliers that rely on the quick access the Bridge provides.
Transport Minister Derek Mackay (@DerekMackayMSP) said: “This is a phased reintroduction of HGVs to the Forth Road Bridge which aims to provide access to the Bridge at the earliest available opportunity. Allowing limited access to the bridge when traffic is lighter will hopefully provide some relief to local hauliers while repair work continues.
“90 per cent of traffic returned to the Forth Road Bridge in December and while we recognise that around 600 HGVs crossing the bridge each night does not get us to 100 per cent, it is a step in the right direction – with full reopening expected in mid-March. We will of course continue to explore every option to see if we can increase access as the trial develops.