Dick Denby has been lobbying the government for the use of his B-Double artic trailer combination for over 20 years. Back in 1999, in association with Silvertip Design, Don-Bur developed and manufactured the first 16m long trailer with active Steering Correction Mechanism (SCM) and worked closely with Dick Denby to realise a true EMS (European Modular System) combination. (8 + 16m), dubbed the "Ecolink".
Now, it is understood that the DfT will be issuing a section 44 permit to allow trials of the "25.25" 60 tonne Ecolink combination from March with studies conducted about a trial of up to 3,000 of such concepts.
The Ecolink comprises a primary 7.82m long trailer with an extended chassis 'tail' to support a set-back tandem axle bogie and a secondary fifth wheel. Coupled to that additional fifth wheel will be a standard 13.6m long tri-axle trailer which extends the entire combination to 25.25m long.
The additional middle trailer has to include 2 positive steer axles to follow a similar swing radius as the tractor unit so that the rear trailer unit swings clear of the inner 5.3m turning circle limit defined in regulations.
It is unclear at present whether the DfT will permit the full 60 tonne GVW or reduce it to 50 tonnes. Considering the additional trailer is likely to add in the region of 7 to 8 tonnes of extra TARE weight, an increase from 44 to 50 tonnes GVW will not be sufficient to realise the true potential of the concept. Indeed, a 50 tonne limit will impact payload to the point where an operator would have to reduce their payload weight in comparison to a standard 13.6m trailer.
If the trial is successful, an Ecolink single deck combination could carry an additional 8 tonnes. That extra weight could comprise 14 extra UK pallets on a single deck or 28 on a double deck. In total, one combination could transport an impressive 80 pallets.
It's arguable that Ecolinks would reduce impact to road surfaces. Supported by 8 axles, the combination doesn't apply any more pressure to the road surface than a standard artic. Although the tractor drive axle is likely to apply more torque friction to the asphalt, the holistic impact of reducing 3 individual journeys to 2 (to move the same payload) is likely to reduce surface wear and tear.
The benefits would be undeniable. Although a 60 tonne combination will consume more fuel than a 44 tonne current equivalent, the overall effect of using Ecolinks could cut journeys by up to 33% which will have a large positive impact both on fuel and CO2 output per tonne kilometer.
B-Double combinations are already commonplace in countries such as Holland, Scandanivia and Spain.
See the original Ecolink in operation on YouTube at https://youtu.be/skN1fpoG63U
If operators would like to discuss the possibilities, please contact us.
Published: Mon 22 Feb 2021
Updated: Tue 09 Jan 2024
Author: Richard Owens
Published by: Don-Bur