RAC smart motorway survey

RAC smart motorway survey

22.9.2021 | Logistics

RAC smart motorway survey

Majority of drivers think all-lane-running smart motorways should be scrapped.

Six in 10 drivers (62%) think that all-lane-running smart motorway schemes should be scrapped entirely and the hard shoulder reinstated, while retaining the technology that manages traffic flows and detects breakdowns, according to research carried out for the RAC Report on Motoring 2021.

Only a quarter of the 2,600-plus drivers (24%) surveyed by the RAC support the continuation of current government policy, which is to stick to four permanent running lanes and no hard shoulder, while increasing the number of emergency refuge areas and including extra technology to detect stationary vehicles and cameras to catch motorists who put others at risk by ignoring closed-lane signs.

Overall, most drivers (63%) do not believe the measures being implemented by National Highways to compensate for the removal of the hard shoulder – such as variable speed limits in response to incidents or to control traffic flow, closed-lane signs, SOS emergency refuge areas up to every 1.6 miles apart and technology to detect slowing or stationary vehicles – are adequate. Just 15% stated they thought they were adequate, with a fifth (21%) unsure.

The RAC research also indicates a sharp increase in safety concerns about smart motorways with 24% of drivers citing this as one of their top overall motoring concerns, up from 16% last year. Drivers over 65 expressed the most concern about the issue, with 44% listing it as their top concern. Less than half of drivers (43%) who have driven on all-lane running stretches of motorway feel safe on them, while 30% say they don’t feel very safe and a quarter (24%) state they feel ‘very unsafe’.

The fear of what would happen in the event of a breakdown on an all-lane-running motorway clearly weighs heavy on drivers’ minds with 84% believing that safety is compromised by the permanent removal of the hard shoulder – up from 67% when drivers were last asked this in the 2019 RAC Report on Motoring.

More than six-in-10 (63%) of drivers think the typical distance between SOS areas of up to 1.6 miles/2.5km is too great, up from 55% in 2019 which explains why eight-in-10 (79%) worry they will be unable to reach one if they broke down, up from 70% in 2019. And, despite National Highways’ ‘Go Left’ campaign introduced in March 2021, less than half of drivers (46%) say they know what to do in the event of breaking down in a live lane, almost unchanged on the 2019 figure (49%).

Drivers also lack confidence in the authorities’ ability to respond to live-lane breakdowns or incidents. Just 30% of motorists say they trust National Highways’ abilities to detect a stationary vehicle in a running lane and react accordingly, down sharply from 53% in 2019, while only 54% say the majority of drivers obey red ‘closed-lane’ signs which are used to keep traffic out of lanes where a breakdown or other incident has occurred, down from 60% two years ago.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said:

“Our research reveals the enormous strength of feeling among drivers of all ages about the safety of all-lane-running smart motorways. But while there’s support for scrapping these motorways across all age groups, it’s highest among those aged 45 and over, with 73% wanting to see the end of these schemes.

“We’ve always had safety concerns about all-lane-running motorways and have raised these by giving evidence to two separate Transport Committee inquiries. While the Government published its 18-point action plan in 2020, the RAC has continued to push for new safety features to be introduced as quickly as possible. Although much of the plan is on track and the installation of crucial stopped vehicle detection technology is now due to be completed ahead of schedule, it seems the only thing that will truly satisfy most drivers is the re-instatement of the hard shoulder.

“The Government is therefore faced with a difficult choice between continuing to roll out unpopular all-lane-running motorways very much against drivers’ wishes or reinstating the hard shoulder, effectively creating three-lane ‘controlled motorways’ which would have the benefit of improved safety features but with less overall capacity.

“The RAC, however, believes there’s a third option worth considering which provides increased capacity without adversely compromising safety. Rather than simply scrapping dynamic hard shoulder schemes, which only open the hard shoulder to traffic at busy times of the day, these schemes could be made the new standard as they still offer somewhere to stop away from live traffic in the event of a breakdown during quieter times, while still accommodating more traffic at busy times. They have also demonstrated very good levels of safety. What’s more, all the technology that’s been installed for all-lane-running would continue to be of valuable use, making dynamic hard shoulder schemes even safer.

“Arguably, all that would be needed is to repaint the sold white hard shoulder line and potentially some additional gantry signs. We would also like to see the ‘red X’ closed-lane symbol illuminated whenever the hard shoulder is not being used as a running lane alongside variable message signs indicating the hard shoulder is for emergency use only so drivers clearly know it’s not in use. That way there is no confusion and anyone who has to stop due to a breakdown or incident is likely to be better protected.”

Green innovation funding

Green innovation funding

22.9.2021 | Ports

Green innovation funding

Hutchison Ports Port of Felixstowe has been announced as one of the beneficiaries of the Department for Transport’s Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition (CMDC).

Developed with partners at Cranfield University, Sizewell C and EDF, the project involves a feasibility study into the potential for Freeport East to become both a net-zero port and a net-zero energy hub for third parties and the adjacent region, leveraging opportunities such as the local presence of existing and new-build nuclear power stations at Sizewell.

Commenting on the project, Chris Lewis, Chief Executive Officer at the Port of Felixstowe, said:

“There is considerable use of fossil fuel in ports all over the world. Replacing hydrocarbons completely is a huge challenge. Technology replacements are in some cases becoming available but in many cases, they are in their infancy or face other hurdles to adoption. All solutions demand very significant investment. The study will identify which solutions give the best viable outcome regarding speed and efficacy towards net zero.”

In addition to decarbonising the port’s own operations, the study will also consider how Freeport East can play a role in helping to reduce or eliminate carbon from associated and adjacent businesses. Mr Lewis added:

“Decarbonising associated activities is very challenging. There are a large number of diverse operators not under the direct control of the port. However, the scale of operations at Felixstowe and Harwich increases the potential to supply a carbon-free energy alternative and will drive the concept of a port energy supply hub. If the project can supply enough hydrogen, synthetic fuels or bulk carbon-free power, it can facilitate a far-reaching energy transition.”

Freeport East is one of eight new Freeports in England announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in March. Hutchison Ports’ Port of Felixstowe and Harwich International are partners in the Freeport together with a number of local councils and the New Anglia and South East Local Enterprise Partnerships.

In November 2020, the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution included £20 million for the CMDC to develop clean maritime technology. The programme builds on the vision set out in the Department for Transport’s Clean Maritime Plan and recently published Transport Decarbonisation Plan, underlining its commitment to addressing emissions from the sector.

The ‘Perfect Storm’ hitting the supply chain

The ‘Perfect Storm’ hitting the supply chain

22.9.2021 | Industry matters

The ‘Perfect Storm’ hitting the supply chain

Regulatory and transport solicitor, Tim Ridyard, shares his thoughts on the issues affecting every link in the chain. 

Sadly, there appears to be no imminent solution with significant long-term disruption highly likely

The HGV driver shortage, around 100,000, is a major issue, but also a major shortfall in non-driving sector staff is compounding the problem. The number of EU workers has plummeted, and exporters already face significant financial losses, new obstacles and legal paperwork created by the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement – this is before additional legal, and customs import requirements. Veterinary health certificates are due to come into force on 1 October 2021 but are deferred to 1 Jan 2022.

The causes of the driver shortage are well known: unattractive working conditions and pay, high training costs, an age profile where 50% of drivers are over 50 and less than 2% are under 25, the freezing of driver testing during COVID – plus COVID itself – changes in tax rules (IR35), the major loss of EU drivers post BREXIT (unlikely to return) plus new immigration visa requirements. The list is endless. As a result, pay rates and haulage costs are rising, and businesses cannot move time-critical fresh goods. At the same time, those businesses have severely depleted workforces, and crops may even go unpicked.

So what can be done to ease the driver shortage that is just one aspect of this headache? HM Govt will introduce ‘one-stop’ full HGV (CE) testing this autumn, allowing drivers to obtain their full HGV licence after one test and not in two stages, as now. From 15 November, the intended car/trailer testing will be relaxed to free up more test capacity for HGV drivers. A rapid increase in the driver pool is needed urgently. These are potentially only marginal gains in isolation.

A long-term fundamental solution has to be found. In the short term, gaps need to be filled – this may be by meeting training costs, making the profession more attractive and adding HGV drivers onto the job shortage visa list. Challenging – but this has long been well known.

Tim Ridyard is a Regulatory and Road Transport Solicitor and assists many businesses in the transport and logistics sector.

FPUA members finalists in 2021 Multimodal awards

FPUA members finalists in 2021 Multimodal awards

22.9.2021 | Logistics

FPUA fellows finalists in 2021 Multimodal awards

Felixstowe Port Users’ Association members epitomise the region’s success stories.

The Felixstowe Port Users’ Association (FPUA) would like to wish all its shortlisted members good luck in the 2021 Multimodal Awards.

FPUA Chairman Jason Flower said: “The Multimodal Awards are one of the highlights of the year for the logistics industry, both from a celebratory and networking perspective. It recognises excellence in air, road, rail, maritime, and freight forwarding services, and it is heartening to see a number of our FPUA members as finalists, which epitomises some of our region’s biggest success stories.”

The 2021 Multimodal Awards are nominated and voted for by the industry, for the industry through an independent Awards nomination and voting system. Making them one of the fairest industry Awards.

Finalists include freight leaders from across the modes and ports, pallet networks, and technology companies.

The Multimodal Awards voted-for categories include 3PL of the Year, Air Freight, Rail Freight, Road Freight and Sea Freight Operator of the Year, Pallet Network of the Year, Port Operator and Technology Company of the Year.
The Multimodal Awards voted-for categories include 3PL of the Year, Air Freight, Rail Freight, Road Freight, Sea Freight Operator of the Year, Pallet Network of the Year, and Port Operator and Technology Company of the Year.

Votes can be made online until 28th September 2021.

The winners will be announced at a gala dinner at the VOX NEC on the evening of 19th October 2021, hosted by football legend Kevin Keegan on the first day of the free-to-attend Multimodal show.

FPUA members finalists include: 

Technology Company of the Year
• Fargo Systems Ltd

3PL of the Year
• DB Schenker
• Maersk

Port Operator of the Year
• Port of Felixstowe

Rail Freight Operator of the Year
• Freightliner
• Maritime

Road Freight Operator of the Year
• Goldstar Transport
• Pentalver

Sea Freight Operator of the Year
• DFDS
• Maersk
• MSC

DP WORLD TO INVEST £300M IN NEW FOURTH BERTH AT LONDON GATEWAY

DP WORLD TO INVEST £300M IN NEW FOURTH BERTH AT LONDON GATEWAY

22.9.2021 | Ports

DP WORLD TO INVEST £300M IN NEW FOURTH BERTH AT LONDON GATEWAY

Logistics hub to strengthen UK’S supply chain.

Work begins next month to increase operational resilience and create more capacity for the world’s largest vessels.

The £300m sum – which builds on the £2bn investment DP World has made in Britain over the last decade – represents the next step by the leading global provider of smart logistics in delivering integrated supply chain solutions for customers.

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, said:

“I am delighted to announce that we will go ahead with our latest major investment in the UK, which will give London Gateway more capacity to handle the world’s largest vessels than any other port in the country.

“As a central pillar of Thames Freeport, London Gateway’s new fourth berth will allow even more customers to benefit from world-class ports and logistics, with unrivalled global connectivity, on the doorstep of Europe’s largest consumer market. DP World plans to be at the heart of Britain’s trading future, and this investment shows that we have the ambition and the resources to boost growth, support businesses, create jobs and improve living standards.”

The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, was guest of honour at last week’s commercial launch of Thames Freeport at the Savoy Hotel in London. He added:

“Our new Freeports will create national hubs of trade, innovation and commerce, and attract more investment to regenerate communities and level up the UK.

“Bringing ports and business together to invest in their regions is crucial to the Freeports success story – that’s why I’m thrilled that DP World is investing £300 million to support Thames Freeport – creating new opportunities, boosting growth and supporting local jobs.”

In the first six months of 2021, London Gateway saw record throughput of 888,000 TEU, a more than 23 per cent increase on the previous best performance for the first half of a year. The new fourth berth will raise capacity by a third, and completion will coincide with the delivery of a new wave of 24,000 TEU vessels in 2023/2024, which will all be operated between Asia and Europe.

Along with the Port of Tilbury and Ford’s Dagenham plant, DP World London Gateway will form Thames Freeport after being awarded Freeport status by the Government earlier this year, with the partners currently progressing the business case with a view to receiving formal accreditation. DP World Southampton has also been awarded Freeport status as part of Solent Freeport, further cementing the critical role of both logistics hubs in the UK’s international trade.