Felixstowe introduces new Vehicle Booking System

The port of Felixstowe is introducing a Vehicle Booking System (VBS) similar to the one Southampton Container Terminal rolled out when queues of trucks caused chaos at the port (May 2005).

On average the Suffolk port rejects 15% of drivers - about 600 every day - due to incorrect or incomplete information being entered in advance of their arrival. Although the port is open 24 hours a day, 40% of all LGVs arrive within a six-hour period.

VBS is a web-based booking system that provides drivers with a specific hour of the day they can pick up a container. A slot will cost £2 in peak periods but will be free during off-peak times.

The port will set a limit on bookings in the hourly period - with a 'no-show' fine of £21.

A spokesman says the intention is to begin a trial of the system within "a few months", adding: "The trials will commence shortly with a number of volunteer drivers. There will be no charge for them".

Operators asked to keep trucks out of Towcester

Operators have been asked to avoid sending their vehicles through Towcester, which is on the A5 in Northamptonshire, and reroute them along the M1.

The A5 was declared an air-quality management area in September 2005 because high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from exhaust fumes had been discovered. Monitoring has shown that nitrogen dioxide remains higher than government recommendations.

South Northants Council (SNC) has come up with an action plan after spending three months collating public opinion on the problem.

The long-term solution would be a bypass for Towcester, the council says, but other solutions are needed in the short term.

Among the ideas being considered is a request to local operators to run LGVs along the M1 rather than using the A5 through the town centre.

SNC environmental health officer Julie Ewers says the Towcester bypass is essential for the town - but would take time to plan and build.

One local operator says the A5 is not a key route for many hauliers in the area: "But it does become jammed when there are problems on the M1."