Some hauliers will be allowed to use longer trailers under plans to boost growth published today (11 October 2011) by Roads Minister Mike Penning.
Following consultation on proposals to allow a 2 metre increase in the length of articulated lorries, the Department for Transport is allowing a 10-year trial of up to 900 trailers at an increased length of 2.05 metres, and 900 at an increase of 1 metre. The longer lorries will operate within the existing weight limit of 44 tonnes.
The trial is expected to provide a £33 million boost to the haulage industry as the longer vehicles provide up to 13% more loading space - allowing fewer journeys to transport the same amount of goods - without compromising safety.
Mike Penning said:
The road haulage industry is vital to the growth of our economy. By allowing companies to use 1 truck where they may have previously needed to send 2, we can help the sector improve efficiency and save money - which should in turn benefit consumers.
Independent research showed the potential environmental, safety and congestion benefits of longer trailers and this voluntary trial will give industry the opportunity to demonstrate how this works in practice.
The trial will be subject to rigorous annual assessments and will be closely and independently monitored throughout so that any concerns are addressed quickly.
The consultation responses indicated that haulage operators would like the option to choose between different trailer lengths depending on the type of operation they are carrying out.
The changes would make the total permitted length for articulated lorries 18.55 metres; the current maximum length for lorries using a truck and drawbar trailer is 18.75 metres. The government has ruled out any further increase in length.
The response to the consultation.
Current UK regulations limit the maximum loading length of semi-trailers to 13.6 metres. Under the trial, the department will be permitting the limited use of semi-trailers with a maximum loading length up to 15.65 metres. This is the same loading length currently allowed for rigid truck / drawbar trailer combination vehicles.
The maximum permitted length of articulated lorries drawing the longer semi-trailers will be 18.55 metres. This compares to 18.75 metres for the rigid truck / drawbar trailer combination vehicles mentioned above.
The government is not permitting any increase in the current maximum gross vehicle weight of 44 tonnes. It has also ruled out the introduction of “gigaliners” - lorry combinations of 25 metres and above.
The government had also consulted on the possibility of increasing the length of cabs to allow a more aerodynamic frontal design. However, it was clear from the consultation that there is unlikely to be significant commercial demand for aerodynamic frontal designs at present. The government therefore does not intend to take this any further at this time, but will keep the situation under review.