The Rt Hon Grant Shapps has not, to date, given the go-ahead to the widespread use of longer semi-trailers (LSTs) on Britain’s roads as mooted recently in the trade press. Having spoken directly to the Freight Policy team at the Department for Transport today, Don-Bur was able to uncover more detail.
The Secretary of State for Transport, in evidence to the Transport Select Committee, confirmed that he had “signed off” the consultation on the future of the Longer Semi-trailer trial. He also mentioned the department’s preferred option, outlined in the document, is for a light touch regulatory approach to allowing LSTs in general circulation, with the aim of replicating the trial safety record in real world operation.
The information gathered during the trial suggests that practices such as specific driver training, operator practices (including route selection, route assessment, driver selection and driver familiarity) contribute to the better safety performance of LSTs per kilometre. An important issue in considering the more general use of LSTs is how to ensure the safety performance remains as good as or better than standard trailers.
The longer semi-trailer consultation closed on 1st February 2021 and the Department is now considering the responses. In the meantime, the trial will continue as planned until the finishing date in 2027.
The published LST speculation is one of a series of recent stories relating to longer and heavier vehicles including an increase in the maximum GVW for short, rail-to-dock routes and the much-debated Dick Denby "B Double" combination. Don-Bur also spoke to Dick Denby yesterday and he is expecting a section 44 for his B Double 25.25m combination.
This clarity will come as a disappointment to many operators as they are keen to adopt LSTs as a permanent fixture and plan their businesses accordingly. The continued deliberations are, no doubt, critical to ensure problem-free integration into the UK road infrastructure but to some, in the meantime, it may tip future considerations toward other high cube solutions such as double decks.
Published: Thu 04 Mar 2021
Updated: Tue 09 Jan 2024
Author: Richard Owens
Published by: Don-Bur