Longer Semi-trailers - DfT consultation
On the 30th March, the Department for Transport (DfT) published a consultation on a proposal to allow a 2.05m increase in the length of semi-trailers and a maximum overall length for articulated HGVs of 18.75m. The current maximum permitted length of an articulated HGV is 16.5m, and the maximum length of semi-trailer compatible with that overall limit is 13.6m. The existing weight limit of 44 tonnes would remain in force. The proposal, if adopted, would consequently bring an articulated HGV broadly in-line with a rigid/draw-bar trailer combination (in terms of total vehicle length and the load-platform length). Providing an additional 2.05m to the length of a semi-trailer would allow an additional two rows of standard pallets to be conveyed per trip.
Independent research findings
The proposal is based on the findings of an independent study conducted for the DfT by a group of consultants which included MDS Transmodal. The study was managed by WSP with Transport Research Laboratory providing vehicle engineering expertise. MDS Transmodal undertook the economic impact assessment together with gathering evidence from the logistics industry and providing overall freight expertise.
Reduction in overall HGV trips and associated savings
Evidence gathered from the logistics industry suggests that the greater payload capacity provided by a 2.05m length increase would result in an average 13% reduction in HGV trips from factories and distribution centres. Findings from the study suggest that the direct financial benefits to the logistics industry are likely be in the region of £2 to £5 billion (NPV) up to 2025 (central estimate), depending on which type of semi-trailer steering system is specified by the DfT and whether intermodal rail operators also adopt longer units of a similar length. Wider environmental benefits, principally resulting from fewer HGV trips (reduction in congestion, accidents, pollution, CO2 emissions etc.), were estimated to be in the region of £0.3 to £2 billion (NPV) to 2025 (central estimate). Overall, the total economic benefits (industry and environmental benefits combined) net of indirect taxation are forecast to be in the range £2 to £6.5 billion (NPV).
Depending on the outcome of the consultation, the Government will consider permitting the operation of high-volume semi-trailers on a trial basis pending the introduction of the necessary changes to current Regulations. The consultation runs until 21st June 2011.
The summary report prepared for the DfT, which outlines the main project findings, can be downloaded here. The economic analysis and evidence gathering reports prepared by MDS Transmodal, which detail the research and analysis undertaken and support the findings outlined in the summary report, can also be downloaded by using the following links.
Longer semi-trailer feasibility study and impact assessment
To view the DfT consultation papers click here