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UK industry support for longer, heavier vehicles

The UK Freight Transport Association has told a conference of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that there is a very positive case for conducting trials of longer and heavier lorries in the UK. Speaking at the OECD conference on Heavy Vehicle Transport Technology in Paris on Monday (19 May), FTA's Manager of Road Freight & Enforcement Policy, Chris Yarsley, told delegates that a study of the possible operation of such vehicles quickly revealed their benefits.

Yarsley referred to the long-awaited research report on the subject, commissioned by the UK Department for Transport itself, which would most likely describe the benefits of using such vehicles for certain types of freight traffic. The much delayed publication of the report, due nine months ago but not now likely before the end of July, should bring forward a debate about the merits or problems of such vehicles. Yarsley said that UK industry was very frustrated by the delay in the publication of the report.

More efficient road transport, utilising longer, heavier lorries, would produce benefits for the transport industry and for the wider population. Longer, heavier vehicles, able to carry more goods on fewer lorries, would reduce environmental impact and reduce transport costs for industry.

Yarsley said, 'Based on the substitution of one LHV for two of the current maximum weight 44 tonne vehicles, the calculated carbon dioxide saving is about 30 per cent. By contrast, typical savings from advanced driver training courses is about 7 per cent. So LHVs offer a carbon saving about four times greater than the next best available option for vehicle operators.

'The number of trucks needed to move a given volume of goods, and the number of miles travelled would be halved. And being new build trucks, these vehicles would be built to the next generation of emission standards, Euro 5, replacing trucks up to eight years old. They would create no greater road wear to roads or bridges, as the additional weight would be spread across a greater number of axles. A win-win scenario.'

Yarsley said that enforcement could be through a permit arrangement for individual flows. These would only be available to vehicles which met best practice safety standards and drivers with appropriate and regular training.

The Freight Transport Association is calling on the Department for Transport to allow a few responsible firms to carry out trials, at their own expense and under carefully controlled and monitored conditions, to try to establish the practical arrangements that would allow the available carbon savings to be achieved in road based transport contracts without jeopardising what is already being achieved by rail.

Yarsley said, 'Moving more goods on fewer vehicles makes environmental and economic sense, and produces very worthwhile road safety benefits. We must not be beguiled by blind prejudice against longer and heavier vehicles without looking at the actual evidence produced by practical trials. The UK Government should publish the report it commissioned, and authorise road trials of these vehicles as soon as possible.'

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