The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has welcomed the announcement that the Government is pressing ahead with operational trials of high volume semi-trailers. Under the plans a limited number of permits will be made available for operators to run articulated lorries up to 2 metres longer than existing, standard articulated vehicles. The new length would give an equivalent deck space to the current standard drawbar (rigid truck and trailer) combinations, but at 18.55 metres would be marginally shorter than these vehicles (18.75 metres).
Andy Mair, FTA’s head of engineering policy said:
“FTA research suggests that there are significant environmental and efficiency benefits on offer from deploying these vehicles. But it is not a vehicle for all sectors and will only be viable on journeys where the goods carried are high volume, low weight as vehicle fill can be improved. Consequently, the number of journeys will be reduced and the number of lorry miles cut.”
In its consultation response to the proposals, FTA argued that businesses should have as much flexibility as possible in developing high volume semi-trailer designs that work for them. This would allow the trailer to be operated without overdue restriction on heights or any tightening of existing maneuverability requirements etc. Tougher standards could mean fitting heavier, more costly, axles, therefore compromising payload and commercial viability.
FTA believes that should there be an over-subscription for the number of high volume semi-trailers than have been authorised under the trial, operators who can demonstrate the greatest efficiency benefits should be prioritised.
“The allocation process of trailers should seek to maximise the potential carbon saving benefit that their deployment could yield. To achieve this, the process should be based on evidence of what the trailer will be used for, the intensity of their use in terms of vehicle kilometres and load fill.
“The Department must avoid a free-for-all auction where operators speculatively apply for high volume semi-trailer permits which are then either not taken up or used infrequently.”