'At least six months' until decision on longer trailers

The Department for Transport (DfT) says a report into the viability of longer semi-trailers won't be ready for at least six months - and it will be longer still until a ministerial decision is made on their introduction.

Speaking at the Institute of Grocery Distribution's 'Sustainable Distribution 2009' conference, Stephen Fidler, the DfT's head of freight and logistics, said the department was looking into the possibility of trailers up to 2.05m longer than the existing 13.5m standard.

To help the DfT produce a "comprehensive, in-depth" study, a group of consultants - from WSP, MDS Transmodal, TRL, MIRA and Cambridge University - are looking into the issue.

They will examine issues surrounding safety, the potential uptake and benefits, the possible impact on the rail sector and any potential CO2 reduction.

Fidler adds: "There's not much point cutting CO2 emissions through using these trailers if they are going to put more freight on the roads from the railways.

"I can't promise what ministers will do with the report but we view the carbon agenda as important."

Stobart Group is already evaluating the use of a trailer that is 950mm longer than standard. It says that this improves cage fill by 13% and pallet fill by 9%.