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Longer lorries: Government allows LSTs on roads

Published to the CV Show website on
18/05/2023

As part of efforts to cut emissions and grow the UK economy, government is this month changing regulations to allow longer semi-trailers (LSTs) on Great Britain’s road network.

LSTs, which measure up to 2.05 metres longer than a standard 16.65m semi-trailer, are towed by a conventional tractor unit and subject to the same 44-tonne weight limit as vehicles using standard trailers.

According to the new legal requirements, operators will be expected to put in place extra safety checks including driver training and scheduling, trailer loading, record keeping, and training for transport managers and key staff.

Roads Minister Richard Holden said that a “strong, resilient” supply chain is “key” to government plans to boost the economy.

“That’s why we’re introducing longer semi-trailers to carry more goods in fewer journeys and ensure our shops, supermarkets and hospitals are always well stocked,” he said. “These new vehicles will provide an almost £1.4 billion boost to the haulage industry, reduce congestion, lower emissions and enhance the safety of UK roads.”

The move follows an 11-year trial of the trailers which involved more than 300 operators.

There are currently almost 3,000 LSTs on the road, with some of the biggest organisations in the UK due to roll out their extended use, including Greggs, Morrisons, Stobart, Royal Mail and Argos.

“We welcome the introduction of LSTs into general use,” said Gavin Kirk, Supply Chain Director at Greggs.

“Since 2013, Greggs has been operating LSTs from our National Distribution Centre in Newcastle. We were early adopters of the trial as we saw significant efficiency benefits from the additional 15% capacity that they afforded us.

“We have converted 20% of our trailer fleet to LSTs, which was the maximum allowable under the trial, and these complement our fleet of double-deck trailers. Our drivers undertook additional training to use these trailers and we have monitored accidents, finding that they are as safe as our standard fleet.

“Due to the increased capacity, we have reduced our annual kilometre (km) travel by 540,000 km, and saved 410 tonnes of carbon per year from LSTs. This supports our wider ESG agenda.”

Last year, Suffolk-based The Bartrum Group took delivery of six new SDC double-deck 15.65m longer semi-trailers, which are used on its Pallet Track Network services.

The new longer curtainsiders are fitted with a second deck which provide increased capacity and more efficient operations for the group’s Pallet Track Network services, transporting palletised orders throughout the UK daily, and trunking to hubs in Wolverhampton at night.

The tri-axle curtainsiders feature an EN 12642-XL design, with an FS1 sloping roof to minimise drag, LED lighting and wrap-around curtains.

Robert Bartrum, Managing Director at The Bartrum Group, which has a total fleet of 250 trailers, said: “We are committed to providing the most efficient service to our customers and Bartrum’s latest delivery of high-volume double-deck curtainsiders reflects this.

“We worked jointly with SDC to develop a specification that would minimise our carbon footprint while also increasing the capacity of each vehicle by up to eight additional pallets.

“The new double decks have helped us to achieve fuel savings and offer the most competitive service to customers.”

According to government, the introduction of LSTs is an important, easy and affordable measure to continue to reduce CO2 emissions from the haulage industry without significant technological and infrastructure development, as it continues to work closely with the sector to ensure all new HGVs are net-zero by 2040.

The trial demonstrated that LSTs were involved in about 61% fewer personal injury collisions than conventional trucks.

It also revealed the important environmental benefits associated with the introduction of LSTs, including a reduction of 70,000 tonnes of CO2 and 97 tonnes of NOx.

Vehicles with LSTs are also expected to cause less wear on the roads than conventional trucks due to the type of steering axle used.

Logistics UK has welcomed the news, hailing it as an opportunity to reduce road emissions and industry costs.

It said the announcement will also bring many environmental benefits due to lower congestion, and with fewer vehicles on the road, also has the potential to increase road safety.

Chris Yarsley, Logistics UK’s Senior Policy Manager of Road Freight Regulation, said: “The introduction of LSTs into general service will increase the scope and scale of the goods which our industry is able to transport, increasing efficiencies and reducing the environmental impact of delivering for the UK’s economy.

“Over the past few years of the trial, our members have proved that LSTs provide operators with a cost-efficient, environmentally prudent alternative to conventional vehicles and our members remain committed to rolling them out across the wider industry as soon as possible.”

As with the trial, the longer trucks will transport consumer goods and retail products, as well as waste packaging, parcels and pallets.

They are expected to move the same volume of goods using 8% fewer journeys than current trailers and generate an expected £1.4 billion in economic benefits.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has welcomed the announcement that LSTs will be allowed on Britain’s roads.

“We welcome these new laws to permit longer semi-trailers”, an RHA spokesperson said. “We’ve supported these trials and this change will increase productivity, reduce HGV journeys by carrying the same volume of freight in fewer lorries – and reduce mileage, congestion and carbon emissions.

“We look forward to seeing the impact of these changes on vehicle fleets.”

As LSTs will enable operators to transport a higher volume of goods per journey, the new measure gives wider choice to operators looking for additional solutions to increase their payload efficiencies and reduce their environmental footprint.

 

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