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Going for Gold Transport for London announce updated details of FORS membership

Gold membership to be available from April 2011 to exceptional freight operators across London.
Standard to be given to freight operators who demonstrate self-improvement and deliver environmental savings.
More than 620 operators, representing nearly 25 per cent of vans and lorries regularly operating in London, now registered to the initiative.

Freight companies operating in the capital are being invited to apply for Gold standard membership of a scheme run by Transport for London (TfL) that helps them become safer, greener, more efficient and to save money.

More than 75,000 freight vehicles are registered with the Freight Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) and it is estimated that members managed to reduce their CO2 emissions by a total of 70,000 kg last year. TfL has now updated the criteria for membership of the scheme to allow operators to apply for Gold membership. To qualify companies will have to demonstrate standards that will put them at the pinnacle of freight operations in the capital.

The three levels of membership – Bronze, Silver and Gold – allow freight operators to raise standards within their organisation through education and incentives. As well as passing an on-site assessment of their operation members can also benchmark their performance against comparable operators or the industry average. This allows operators to identify areas where improvement could be made, as well as chart the progress they are making to increase efficiency of their vehicles.

Since the scheme was launched three years ago, more than 75,000 freight vehicles have registered, with nearly 54,000 already progressing to Bronze or Silver membership. That represents over 16 per cent of all freight vehicles regularly operating across the Capital and TfL is working to have half of all freight vehicles regularly operating in London as Bronze, Silver or Gold members of the scheme by spring 2016.

Silver membership was first awarded in December 2009 and members using the benchmarking system have managed to increase the average mpg of their vehicles by around three per cent, and reduce the number of Penalty Charge Notices being issued by 55 per cent. Overall, it is estimated that members managed to reduce their CO2 emissions by more than 70,000kg in 2010, thanks largely to benchmarking.

Members are also entitled to a number of discounts, which look to help improve performance while saving money. These include money off safety devices to help improve cycle safety, including on-vehicle CCTV systems, proximity detection equipment, as well as free access to a specifically designed training course to help drivers become more aware of cyclists in and around London.

These training courses, which are funded by TfL and some London boroughs, count towards the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence, a formal qualification which allows freight drivers to continue professional development. They add to the work already carried out in partnership with the freight industry to increase drivers awareness of cyclists by initiatives such as fitting extra mirrors to help them see the ‘blind spot’ on their vehicles; and setting up ‘exchanging places’ events where lorry drivers and cyclists can swap positions to increase their appreciation of each other’s visual perspectives on the roads.

Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London’s transport advisor, said: "The Gold standard demonstrates that the Mayor is challenging the industry to raise the bar even further when it comes to reducing the impact they have on London. Significant strides have already been made in improving fuel efficiency and reducing the number of penalty charges through the Silver and Bronze standards, and now nearly a quarter of vans or lorries in London are signed up to FORS.

"This scheme is a win-win as it can deliver savings for the companies taking part and provides a greener and safer operation of freight for the public. Since the Mayor’s election we have built a close working relationship with the freight industry and we value their continued support to improving their operation, and therefore improving their environmental impact and their impact on other road users."

Ben Plowden, Director of Better Routes and Places, said; "Deliveries around London are vital for the economy, but just as vital is to ensure that these deliveries are being made legally and safely.

"More than 620 operators across the UK have signed up to the FORS initiative, with more than 50 per cent of them already progressing to Bronze or Silver membership.

"The creation of the Gold FORS membership allows freight operators across the Capital to further demonstrate their performance and keenness to become safer, greener and more efficient."

Natalie Chapman, the Freight Transport Association’s Head of Policy for London said: "The popularity of FORS demonstrates the appetite among freight operators for safer, greener and more compliant best practice. We support efforts to recognise and reward those many freight operators who are meeting and exceeding high standards of performance in and around London."

TfL hopes to award the first Gold memberships in late 2011. For more information or to register to the scheme, visit www.tfl.gov.uk/fors

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