The Government is proposing longer goods vehicles are permanently allowed on Britain's roads and also wants to trial heavier HGVs (heavy goods vehicles) to reduce emissions.
Longer than conventional HGVs but not heavier, LSTs can carry 3 more rows of supermarket goods cages on each journey compared with existing trailers.
A trial of longer semi-trailers (LSTs), which are longer than conventional heavy goods vehicles but not heavier, has been underway for the past seven years. The vehicles involved in the trial have saved lorry drivers 33.5 million miles and 48,000 tonnes of CO2 – equivalent to taking more than 20,000 cars off the road. The results also show the trailers were involved in fewer personal injury collisions compared with standard size HGVs.
Due to these positive results, the Government has proposed ending the trials early and had launched a consultation on whether LSTs should be allowed to permanently operate on roads across the UK.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Our freight industry keeps the country moving, delivering vital goods and services every single day – which, as we all know, has never been more important than it is now, during the pandemic.
"These trials clearly show the benefits for business and the environment of using longer trailers. By determining the next steps to get them on our roads permanently, we can benefit industry and our economy, boost safety and cut emissions."
The Department for Transport has also launched a consultation on proposals to start a trial of slightly heavier HGVs on UK roads, which could see the maximum weight of some HGVs increased by 4 tonnes to 48 tonnes.
The change suggested in the consultation would allow lorries to transport heavier containers direct to or from freight trains, helping to shift more cargo from road-only journeys onto rail, and therefore cutting emissions and congestion on our roads.
The proposed trial would operate on around 10 routes cleared as safe for use by 48-tonne vehicles, and would look at whether it encouraged a shift of goods from road to rail.
The consultations come ahead of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, which will set out a clear pathway to delivering transport’s contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting net zero by 2050.