DfT may extend longer semi-trailer trial as benefits mount

Emma Shone
September 12, 2016


The government is considering extending the longer semi-trailer pilot, despite the latest annual report revealing that the full allocation is still not running on UK roads.

According to the fourth annual report, 1,674 of the full allocation of 1,800 longer semi-trailer permits were in use as of July 2016; an increase from the 1,511 at the end of 2015.

The DfT said another 100 longer semi-trailers have either been issued with their vehicle special orders, required to use a longer trailer on the public highway, or are currently in build.

With the full trial allocation almost reached, the DfT has also started “consulting trade associations and participants on whether to increase the number of vehicles in the trial”.

It is also seeking views on whether the trial should be extended.

Since December 2015, the number of operators with longer semi-trailers on the road has increased from 151 to 163, and the report predicted that operating longer semi-trailers had saved up to 10.6 million vehicle km since the trial began in 2012.

The report added: “There is no evidence that the safety risk from longer semi-trailers is worse than that of normal HGV trailers.”

Transport minister John Hayes said: “Lorries are the engine of our economy and this pilot scheme is helping hauliers deliver the day-to-day goods we need more efficiently.”

“Road haulage efficiency is vital to the economy and keeping the UK competitive,” said RHA director of policy Jack Semple. “After the Brexit vote, there is an increased awareness that we should be embracing every opportunity for productive innovation, where it is safe to do so.” 

“This report confirms the value of longer semi-trailers,” Jack Semple continued. “It also confirms the RHA’s prediction that there would be no great rush for the new lengths and that take-up would be gradual, with 15.65 metre trailers much the more popular length.

“There are now 151 operators in the trial. But it is clear from our members that both existing longer semi-trailer operators and other hauliers could make good use of more of these trailers, and the government should release more permits to allow them to do so. It should allocate permits, as before, in a way that gives equal opportunity to smaller firms.”

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