The Department for Transport has announced that it will be extending the numbers in its Longer Semi-Trailer trial this year.
The DfT has agreed to increase the number of LSTs involved in the programme by an additional 1,000 vehicles and to extend the trial period by five years. This will take the number of LSTs on the road to approximately 2,800 over the next 12 months. Operators will be invited to bid for a share of the additional allocation in the coming months.
The trial, which is investigating the environmental and safety impacts of the use of longer semi-trailer vehicles on the UK roads, has been under way since 2012 and has also been extended to provide a longer reporting period, which will make the study more robust.
The trial involves longer semi-trailers of 14.6 and 15.65 metres in length (17.5 metres and 18.55 metres total vehicle lengths respectively), and the trailers must operate within the UK’s existing domestic weight limit (44 tonnes for vehicles of six axles).
The trial is scheduled to run for a maximum of ten years to help enable participants to recover the costs of their investment. The DfT says it can’t guarantee that the use of the longer semi-trailers will continue to be permitted beyond the end of the trial period.
A report released in September 2016 by the DfT showed that LSTs continue to make a significant contribution towards reducing overall HGV miles, with subsequent environmental benefits, and pose no greater safety risk than normal HGV trailers. The trial is expected to save over 3,000 tonnes of CO₂ with the overall economic benefits estimated at £33 million over 10 years.
“The proposals to simplify the data reporting process, while remaining focussed on safety are welcome, and the FTA supports increasing the numbers of LSTs under scrutiny, so that the results of the trial can be as rigorous as possible,” the FTA’s Head of Engineering, Andy Mair, said. “FTA believes that the trial has sufficiently proved its concept and is now clearly demonstrating what it set out to achieve in terms of reduced lorry miles, CO2 reduction and efficiency gains in road transport operation.”