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Using trailers 2 metres longer could save fuel and increase efficiency as well as reducing emissions and traffic at the same time, a UK Government trial has found. Another truck trial with a higher maximum weight limit of 48 tonnes is also now being considered.

The Department for Transport (DfT) started a trial of longer semi-trailers (LSTs) for articulated goods vehicles back in January 2012. After nearly 8 years, it has been found that adding two metres to trailers could save lorry drivers travelling millions of miles, cut emissions and boost hauliers’ productivity.

In the past year alone, the 2,600 vehicles involved in the trial have saved 33.5 million miles and 48,000 tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent to taking over 20,000 cars off the road, according to the data published by DfT. The results also show the trailers were involved in fewer personal injury collisions compared with standard size HGVs.

Based on these positive results, the British government has proposed to end the trials earlier than the 20 years it had planned. A consultation has now been launched to seek views on whether LSTs should be allowed to permanently operate on roads across the UK.

48 ton HGVs are also being taken into consideration

In addition, the Department for Transport is launching a further consultation on proposals to start a trial of slightly heavier HGVs on UK roads, which could see the maximum weight of some HGVs increase by an additional 4 tonnes to 48 tonnes.

The change suggested in the consultation would allow lorries 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 our roads, further demonstrating the government’s commitment to make haulage more environmentally friendly.

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

The consultations come ahead of the UK Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which will set out a clear pathway to delivering transport’s contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting net-zero by 2050.


Photo credit @ Oast House Archive/ Wikimedia Commons

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