Are longer trailers on the horizon for the UK?

Published: 10 November 2020

Are longer trailers on the horizon for the UK?
Yesterday, the UK Government announced a consultation on the use of longer semi-trailers (LSTs) on UK roads after a near 8 year long trial.

The government have confirmed that:

“The ongoing LST trial now involves around 2,600 LSTs. Up to the end of 2019 the trial results indicated that:
  • on average, the use of LSTs reduced journey numbers by 1 in 12, with more than 54 million vehicle kilometres saved
  • 48,000 tonnes of CO2(e) and 241 tonnes of NOx have been saved
  • on a per kilometre basis LSTs have been involved in about 53% fewer personal injury collisions and casualties than the GB articulated heavy goods vehicle (HGV) average
Following on from these positive results, the government then announced the open consultation to begin on 9 November 2020 until 1 February 2021 at which point, a summary of responses, including the next steps, will be published within 3 months of the consultation closing.

The main options the government are considering based upon the responses from this consultation alongside the evidence gathered from the trial are:
  • do nothing - close the trial on the planned date of 31 January 2027 bringing an end to LSTs on UK roads
  • a light regulation approach - this is said to be the preferred policy option for the government as it would allow the whole of the transport industry to have unrestricted access to LSTs and make a significant contribution towards reducing emission levels.
  • a heavier regulation approach - this option would require transport companies to run each LST at least 80% of each journey on major roads.
  • allowing LSTs to enter into general circulation - this option would mean LSTs could be allowed to operate under the same or similar restrictions as standard trailers do, placing no additional regulatory burden on operators and requiring no further applications to the Traffic Commissioners office.
Phil Lloyd, Heads of Engineering Policy at Logistics UK (Formerly the FTA) commented on the announcement saying:

‘Yesterday’s announcements by the government of a consultation on the use of longer semi-trailers is welcome news for the logistics sector, which is committed to reducing its environmental impact while improving efficiencies.’

“An industry trial earlier has shown the benefits to the environment and the economy on the use of LSTs, and with the ability to carry more goods per journey than traditional trailers, they present a cost-efficient, environmentally prudent alternative to current transportation options – it is good news that the government has taken heed of the findings.  If our industry can move the same amount of goods with fewer journeys, the environment, the economy and other road users will benefit – Logistics UK is supporting the switch to LSTs wholeheartedly and is grateful for the opportunity to consult on these vital vehicles.”
Logistics UK is one of the top UK business groups representing the road transport sector - businesses that are crucial to UK trading and the UK’s economy with millions directly employed in the process of manufacturing and transporting goods across the country.

With the likes of Brexit and COVID-19 and other disruptive forces at play, these are the driving forces in changing the way goods are transported across the UK and across borders and proves the logistical supply chain has never been more vital to the UK
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