Government launches consultation on longer trailers

The government has potentially paved the way for longer trailers and heavier HGVs to become a fixture on UK roads with the launch of consultations into their use.

Trials of longer semi-trailers (LSTs), which can carry 3 more rows of supermarket goods cages on each journey compared with existing trailers has been underway for the past seven years. Results from this show they save millions of miles – cutting emissions and boosting productivity. In the past year alone, the 2,600 vehicles involved in the trial have saved lorry drivers 33.5 million miles and 48,000 tonnes of CO2 – equivalent to taking over 20,000 cars off the road. The results also show the trailers were involved in fewer personal injury collisions compared with standard size HGVs.

Off the back of these results, the government has proposed to end the trials early and, through the consultation, seek views on whether LSTs should be allowed to permanently operate on roads across the UK.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps 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.”

In addition, the government has launched a consultation on raising the maximum weight limit on some HGVs from 44 tonnes to 48 tonnes.

The suggested change would allow trucks to transport heavier containers direct to or from freight trains, helping to shift more cargo from road-only journeys onto rail, and therefore cutting emissions and congestion on the roads.

A proposed trial would operate on about 10 routes cleared as safe for use by 48-tonne vehicles and would look at whether it encouraged a shift of goods from road to rail.

Phil Lloyd, Head of Engineering Policy at Logistics UK, welcomed the announcement on the trailer consultation: “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,” he said. 

“If our industry can move the same amount of goods with fewer journeys, the environment, the economy and other road users will benefit – Logistics UK is supporting the switch to LSTs wholeheartedly and is grateful for the opportunity to consult on these vital vehicles.”

Dan Parton
Dan Parton
Dan Parton is a former editor of Truck & Driver, the UK’s biggest selling truck magazine. He is now writes for The Van Expert and The Truck Expert.

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