DfT trials highlight economic and environmental upside of longer lorries

The introduction of longer semi-trailer (LST) goods vehicles could saved operators £33m in transport costs, with carbon savings anticipated to reach 3,000 tonnes over the course of a 10-year trial, the Department for Transport (DfT) has revealed.

DfT has been trialling the use of LSTs since January 2012, and initial findings released on Tuesday (6 September) have revealed that UK roads have been subjected to 90,000 fewer freight journeys across a near-four-year period.

The Government’s pilot project introduced around 1,800 trucks using LSTs to transport goods across the country. The LSTs, which are up to 2m longer than standard 13.6m units, have saved 10.6m vehicle kilometres and improved air pollution and congestion. Economic benefits could reach £33m over the next 10 years as the UK removes one journey for every nine taken.

“There is good evidence that LST operations are realising significant savings in the number of trailer vehicle kilometres driven on GB roads, with consequential environmental benefits,” the research report said.

Despite the increase in size, the DfT has confirmed that that lorries fitted with LSTs still meet existing manoeuvrability and weight requirements. DfT has revealed it is now conversing with trade associations and participants of the trial to potentially accelerate the initiative and increase the number of vehicles involved.

Keep on trucking

With a recent study finding that introducing European Union-wide CO2 standards for trucks would bring significant savings in line with Paris climate targets, a host of private sector companies have looked to introduce measures to improve freight efficiency.

Leading multinational companies Deutsche Post DHL Group, Hewlett-Packard (HP), DB Schenker, Kuehne+Nagel and Intel have all committed to adopting a universal framework to calculate the carbon footprint of their freight and logistics supply chain.

Heavy commercial vehicle manufacturer Volvo Group has developed a new concept truck which can make 30% savings in fuel consumption, with the vehicle forming part of a five-year long research project aiming to improve the efficiency of long-haul transportation by 50%.

Elsewhere, British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s ramped up its attempts to curb transport emissions, becoming the first company in the world to incorporate “closed-loop” natural refrigerant trailer units for its delivery vehicles.

Despite the progress from other firms, Tesco’s engineering and maintenance manager has claimed that there is “no love for the lorry” when it comes to promoting fuel efficiency and decarbonising exhaust emissions. Tesco has warned that its fleet is at risk of being “left behind” in the decarbonisation process.

Matt Mace

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