The Department for Transport (DfT) is considering plans to expand a pilot scheme involving the use of longer semi-trailers to transport goods which it is claimed will be likely to contribute to improvements in air quality.
The revelation comes part-way through a 10-year government trial on using larger, more efficient road freight trailers, which the DfT has claimed has saved up to 10.6 million vehicle kilometres so far.
Results from the trial, which has been ongoing since 2012, were published by DfT today (6 September). Longer semi-trailers (LSTs) are up to 2.05m longer than standard 13.6m units commonly seen on UK roads – and can transport a greater volume of goods than the standard sized trailers.
Freight operators have been able to apply to take part in the trial since it began in January 2012 on a voluntary basis, with plans to permit up to 1,800 vehicles with a Vehicle Special Order (VSO) to participate over the 10-year life of the trial.
Operating statistics from the use of the LSTs must also be submitted to DfT as a condition of inclusion in the trial.
According to the latest trial data from DfT, as of July 2016 a total of 1,764 LSTs were on UK roads through 151 operators.
And, in its summary of the trial so far, the Department has claimed that there is ‘good evidence’ that LST operators are realising ‘significant savings’ in the number of trailer vehicle kilometres travelled.
DfT estimates that between 8.7 and 106 million km of HGV journeys have been removed from the road as a result of the trial.
Following the release of the results the government has confirmed that it will consult with participants on increasing the number of vehicles involved in the trial, and a possible extension beyond 2022.
Commenting on the findings of the trial, Transport Minister John Hayes, said: “Lorries are the engine of our economy and this pilot scheme is helping hauliers deliver the day-to-day goods we need more efficiently.
“This is good news for consumers, a boost for motorists as it is helping cut congestion with fewer vehicles on the road and it is also helping the environment.â€?