Ministers push for ‘greener’ extra-long lorries to be used across Britain from next year

Ministers push for ‘greener’ extra-long lorries to be used across Britain from next year

7.9.2021 | Haulage

Ministers push for 'greener' extra-long lorries to be used across Britain from next year

Mixed response as concerns raised over risk to vulnerable road users.

Extra-long lorries designed to cut road transport emissions by reducing the number of freight journeys required are set to be rolled out next year, the Government has announced this week as it attempts to tackle the shortage of HGV drivers in Britain.

A 15-year trial of longer-semi trailers – which are 2.05 metres (6.8 feet) longer than the existing limit of 13.6 metres (45 feet) – due to terminate in 2027 has been cut short by the Department for Transport after just nine years.

Ministers are now calling for them to be rolled out from 2022 amid claims they will remove up to one in eight HGV journeys.

That’s despite some opposition to their introduction, with concerns about the threat they potentially pose to vulnerable road users in urban environments, the impact on road conditions and disputes about whether they are greener or not.

Trials of LSTs, which are 15.65 metres (51.3 feet) in length, have taken place on Britain’s roads since 2012.

The longer units are capable of carrying up to 30 standard UK pallets, which is four more than conventional HGV trailers transport.

Some 2,600 LSTs have been on our roads over the last nine years, which are said to offer more efficiency and fewer lorry journeys for commodities limited by bulk as opposed to weight.

By requiring fewer haulage trips across the country, ministers have hoped they can contribute to reducing high levels of road traffic emissions produced by hulking, diesel-powered, HGVs.

In a statement, the DfT said fast-tracking their wider use would ‘support the Government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan by reducing mileage, congestion and carbon emissions’.

The trial has terminated after the Government consulted on ending the scheme having concluded that it had yielded enough data to support their wider use.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said yesterday: ‘This Government is committed to fighting climate change and decarbonising our transport network, and we are working at pace to achieve net-zero by 2050.

‘Today’s announcement is a vital step forwards as we work to introduce more environmentally-friendly freight to our roads and build back greener.’

The DfT said the use of LSTs between 2012 and 2019 made emissions savings of six per cent, cutting around 48,000 tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of the CO2 outputs produced by 6,000 UK households. Road miles driven also dropped on average by eight per cent.

The scheme also suggested they reduced the number of road traffic collisions, resulting from the fact that fewer journeys were made.

Some 57 per cent of those surveyed in the consultation felt LSTs should be in general circulation.

This week, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) said it welcomed the move, which they said would go ‘some way to easing the crisis shortage of HGV drivers’, with Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic depleting driver numbers.

Retail bosses have warned the industry faces a shortfall of 90,000 lorry drivers as a perfect storm of Covid and Brexit strangles supply chains and threatens a shortage of popular gifts ahead of the Christmas rush as well as staple foods.

However, not everyone agreed with the wider rollout of longer lorries on British routes.

Some 43 per cent who responded to the Government’s consultation said LSTs should be removed from the roads entirely, notably for the safety risk posed to vulnerable road users, especially in urban areas.

The DfT’s records show that, up to the end of 2019, there had been 40 reported incidents with LSTs, three of which have involved either a cyclist or a pedestrian.

Two of the cases – both involving cyclists – resulted in one serious injury and one death, though were judged that the use of an LST was not the cause of the incident.

The third, which saw a pedestrian sustain a ‘slight’ injury in 2015, was caused when they were hit by the tail end of the trailer while the driver was making a turning manoeuvre in an urban location during an assessment.

The DfT confirmed further concerns have been raised over route selections based on the damage these longer – and heavier – goods vehicles could cause to road conditions and roadside furniture, which includes properties themselves if positioned precariously close to the roadside.

Chris Todd, the director of the campaign group Transport Action Network, referred to the trial of LSTs as ‘greenwashing in overdrive’.

He said: ‘We know from the nature of the extra swing on the vehicle and the bigger blind spot that it’s going to likely have a more chilling effect on people walking and cycling.’

With the trial ending prematurely, government officials will now push for the use of LSTs outside of trial conditions, with their rollout across the country ‘sometime in 2022’ with no restrictions on where the longer lorries could travel.

Image courtesy of Firmin Transport

Maritime Transport receives award for armed forces support

Maritime Transport receives award for armed forces support

7.9.2021 | Haulage

MARITIME TRANSPORT RECEIVES AWARD FOR ARMED FORCES SUPPORT

Silver accolade for commitment to military service leavers. 

Maritime Transport Ltd. has received the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Silver Award from the Ministry of Defence for a further five years to recognise its outstanding support to the Armed Forces community.

Maritime first received the ERS Silver Award in 2016, the same year it signed the Armed Forces Covenant (AFC) and pledged to promote itself as a forces-friendly organisation, recognising the value that military personnel bring to transport and logistics. As an AFC signatory, Maritime is dedicated to supporting the employment of service leavers, whilst encouraging customers and partners to join the ERS.

The ERS encompasses bronze, silver, and gold awards for employer organisations that pledge, demonstrate, or advocate support to defence and the armed forces community and align their values with the AFC.

Silver accreditation is awarded to organisations that meet the following criteria:
• have signed the AFC
• demonstrate that service personnel/armed forces community are not unfairly disadvantaged as part of their recruiting and selection processes, and employ at least one individual from the armed forces community
• actively ensure their workforce is aware of their positive policies towards defence people issues through HR policies and procedures
• within the context of Reserves, must demonstrate support to mobilisations or have a framework in place to support training by providing at least 5 days’ additional unpaid/paid leave (wherever possible not to Reservist employees’ financial disadvantage)

Entries are considered against the Award criteria by a selection board chaired by a senior military officer. With its headquarters in Felixstowe, Maritime is one of 58 companies in the East of England to receive the Silver Award this year.

Over the years, Maritime has carried out a wide range of work as part of its commitment to the Armed Forces community.

In 2015, the business launched its Professional Driver Scheme, a structured, year-long programme that provides comprehensive on-the-job training and mentoring to newly-qualified C+E drivers and those with six months or less experience driving C+E vehicles. The scheme has been popular with service leavers in particular who have little or no commercial experience.

Additionally, Maritime has worked closely with the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) for a number of years, attending various armed forces recruitment fairs, meeting with service leavers at barracks and throughout Maritime’s depot network, and regularly advertising job vacancies via CTP newsletters.

Maritime has also supported The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal for six consecutive years. Last year, drivers and staff across Maritime’s 40+ depots came together to voluntarily fix more than 1,400 poppies to the company’s entire vehicle fleet for the duration of November.

Maritime will be formally presented with its certificate at the Silver Award ceremony in Cambridge on Thursday, 25th November.

John Williams, Group Executive Chairman, Maritime Transport:
‘We are proud to receive silver status from the ERS for a second time, in recognition of our work with military personnel and their families. We value and benefit significantly from the transferable skills that the service leavers we employ bring to Maritime, and the vital part they play in keeping the country moving. The ERS has now recognised more than 900 UK businesses, illustrating how employing the Armed Forces community makes a truly positive impact for all employers.’

Richard Young, Transport Manager – DGSA, Maritime Transport (Immingham):
‘After seven years’ service in the Army Air Corps MT department, I knew that I wanted to transition into a transport management role in civvy street. However, I quickly learned that I needed to gain some real-world experience of transport before being able to do this. I worked for a small haulier in Hull as a driver for around a year, but something just didn’t fit with me. I missed the structure and professionalism of the Army. I heard that Maritime Transport was recruiting drivers in my area and decided that this would be worth a try. I passed the interview and got the job. I was pleased with the many similarities Maritime had to the Army, for instance, putting on a uniform every day, working out of different sites, and routine. My transferable skills were quickly recognised by the company, and I was promoted to the role of Driver Administrator and then onto Transport manager. Maritime has helped me to continue to develop; recently, I have sat my DGSA exams and passed with Maritime funding the course.’

Jon Swallow on HGV shortage

Jon Swallow on HGV shortage

24.8.2021 | Haulage

Jon Swallow on HGV driver shortage

With temporary visas dismissed by government, what’s the solution? 

With a critical driver shortage to deal with and new border checks due in the next few months, things are in danger of overheating as the economy tries to open up. The driver shortage has been a looming problem for many years, often spoken about but never addressed. Whilst Covid had a mild impact, Brexit and the withdrawal of EU labour have expedited the issue to a powerful tsunami that the average person in the street will soon feel, seemingly with no quick resolution.

Lloyds Loading List recently reported the suggestion by Logistics UK that the driver shortage could be resolved by introducing temporary visas for EU truck drivers. This could be a short-term solution but does not come without its problems.

The first and most obvious is whether these EU drivers are there or even willing to come to the UK in 2021. We don’t believe the EU workforce needed to plug the gap again is there this time, as the problem is in Europe too, and our loss has been their gain. EU drivers are now comfortably working without borders and/or closer to home. Secondly, UK drivers have seen this as an opportunity to address the very real problem of low wages, long hours and poor conditions. Fixing it with EU labour may seal the crack but kicks the problematic can down the road. And third, it doesn’t really fit the Brexit narrative. Those that professed taking back control and British jobs for British people would have a hard time explaining what’s happening.

As we start to look towards Xmas, the traditional ramp-up is looking decidedly at risk. If you add in the huge problems that continue to be experienced with Ocean carriers (a whole separate issue), we wouldn’t bank on full shelves this year.
Here Stuart Todd’s article from Lloyds written 2nd August is posted with specific comments from others in the industry.

Lloyds article

“Logistics UK is pressing the government to review its decision not to grant temporary work visas to EU HGV drivers, in the wake of mounting pressure on the UK’s supply chain caused by a lack of available delivery personnel.

The industry body’s general manager of Public Policy, Alex Veitch, explained that with a current shortage of around 90,000 drivers, the country’s highly interconnected supply chains are now under extreme stress which could be relieved in the short term by allowing EU workers back to support the domestic workforce:

“Logistics has relied on EU drivers for many years, and their loss at the start of the year as a result of Brexit has hit the sector hard. While new drivers are trained and qualified – which can take up to nine months – and DVSA works through its backlog of outstanding HGV driver tests – which we estimate could take until early 2022, it would be prudent for the government to enable temporary visas to be made available for European workers to return to supplement the domestic workforce. The government has already done this for agricultural workers through the Seasonal Worker Scheme, so the precedent has been set: and what is the point of allowing people in to pick the food, if it cannot be transported anywhere due to a lack of available staff?”

He continued: “Logistics workers, and particularly HGV drivers, have acted as the engine room of the UK’s economy throughout the pandemic, keeping homes and businesses supplied with what they need. The recent extension of drivers’ hour’s rules will not solve the problem; the recently improved Apprenticeship Standard for LGV Drivers is launching in August and will take time to have an impact, and the driver test backlog is unlikely to be cleared till the New Year.

Veitch added: “Without an interim solution while new drivers are recruited, trained and tested, the current problems experienced across the country with out-of-stock items will continue. There are simply not enough qualified personnel available to do the jobs we rely on every day – we urge the government to be pragmatic and rethink its refusal to allow temporary visas for the sake of the UK economy.”

Respect

Meanwhile, a senior company executive has called on the logistics industry “to start treating lorry drivers with the respect that they deserve” if it wants to reverse the working population’s dwindling enthusiasm for a career behind the wheel of an HGV.

Charlie Walker, head of marketing at UK-based online fulfilment specialist Walker Logistics Ltd, said the haulage sector has been struggling to attract heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers for as long as most people can remember but never has the driver shortage problem been as severe as it is now.

According to the Road Haulage Association, the UK’s HGV driver pool is currently some 100,000 down on its pre-pandemic total of around 600,000. But even before COVID, it was accepted that the industry needed to recruit at least an extra 60,000 drivers, he noted.

“While Brexit and coronavirus are getting most of the blame for the present crisis, perhaps the time has come for the supply chain sector to consider its own role in creating the driver shortage and reflect on how it might reverse the working population’s dwindling enthusiasm for a career behind the wheel of an HGV.

“The uncomfortable truth is that lorry drivers have been undervalued and treated disrespectfully for years – not only by society in general but, shamefully, by some sections of the industry in which they operate.

Driver shortage ‘only likely to get worse’

Walker highlighted that today’s HGV driver spends long hours under constant pressure from routing and scheduling planners. On arrival at an RDC, s/he will often be made to wait for “an eternity” in a small, invariably grim room (although some boast the luxury of a coffee machine) while awaiting a delivery slot.

He added that 60-hour working weeks – broken only by stops at inadequate restroom facilities – and nights spent in ‘safe and secure’ parking sites that can feel anything but safe and secure do little to add to the job’s appeal.

“And of course, for a lot of drivers, the pay isn’t terribly good: stacking shelves in the local supermarket can be more financially rewarding – and that’s a career path that comes with the added bonus of allowing you to go home and have dinner with your family and sleep in your own bed at the end of each day.

“So, for years, experienced UK drivers have drifted out of the sector, and fewer and fewer young people have been persuaded to replace them. The logistics industry has always relied on a steady supply of drivers from Eastern Europe to plug the gaps, but Britain’s withdrawal from the EU means this is no longer an option.”

Walker concluded that with nearly a third of the UK’s HGV drivers estimated to be aged 55 and over, the driver shortage is only likely to get worse in the long term unless the logistics industry can find ways to make the role more appealing.

“A good way to start the process would be to recognise that HGV drivers are absolutely vital to any successful and cost-efficient supply chain and for the logistics industry to begin treating these vital workers with the respect that they deserve.”

Final thoughts

As you can see, this article illustrates how dire the situation has become, with worse forecast. Charlie Walker from Walker Logistics clearly explains the problems with the UK haulage industry. We concur wholeheartedly having staff and friends who have relatives as drivers or are drivers themselves.

Jordon Director Jon Swallow works in schools helping students with their career decisions, and whenever he mentions HGV driving, the result is almost always negative. “I always ask, but it’s become a bit of a running joke now, kids will reply it’s a job their Grandads do, or that the future is automated (think Elon)” Jon continues “It’s hard to argue with them, the industry has an image problem that unfortunately is now not just an image, it’s reality, and people know it.”

Whatever happens next, investment is now critically needed to train new drivers, but more importantly, to create conditions and an environment that supports a new generation of proud HGV drivers. Action needs to be taken fast.

jordonfreight.com

Highway code concern

Highway code concern

11.8.2021 | Haulage

highway code concern

The RHA voices concerns over this autumn’s changes to the Highway Code.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that their changes to the Highway Code will come into effect in autumn 2021. However, we’re deeply concerned that the changes are unfair and unsafe, and could put vulnerable road users at additional risk.

The details of how the Highway Code will change can be found here.

Of particular concern is the ‘hierarchy of road users’, which will see road users of larger vehicles, such as lorries and coaches, given extra responsibility for the safety of road users who are potentially at more risk, such as cyclists and pedestrians.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett has said that it is ‘inherently unjust’ to make commercial vehicle drivers and other motorists responsible for the safety of others over whom they have no control.

“As far as we can see, there is little, if any, justification for these changes.

“The hierarchy of risk created by the operation of cars, vans, coaches, buses and lorries is already reflected in the additional ongoing training undertaken by lorry and coach drivers,” Richard said.

The other proposal which we most strongly object to is a new rule that gives cyclists a right of way to undertake turning vehicles.

This will require vehicles turning left to give way to cyclists coming from behind. While this is certainly something that all commercial vehicle drivers are trained to do as a matter of course, it simply isn’t always possible to see cyclists in this blind spot. We believe that this proposal must be dropped.

Tom Cotton, our head of policy and infrastructure for England and Wales, said:

“The proposal to give cyclists a special rule that gives them a right of way to pass a turning vehicle is dangerous, it simply defies logic to promote a manoeuvre that puts cyclists in the dangerous and vulnerable position on the road.”

We brought these concerns and others directly to DfT in our consultation response, which you can read here.

Maze celebrates ten years

Maze celebrates ten years

10.8.2021 | Haulage

Maze celebrates ten years

Nacton-based haulier drives business into second decade.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary, Maze Logistic Solutions operates to the same core values as founded in 2011 by Jimmy Simmonds and Steve Snelling.

Jimmy Simmonds says: “Previously working for larger corporates in the haulage industry, our vision for Maze was to create a business with a family feel that was committed to listening to customers’ requirements and delivering a service to meet those needs.

“Our agile business strategy enables us to work flexibly and adapt to any changing market conditions, thereby regularly surpassing clients’ expectations. For us, our service to the major shipping lines and blue-chip forwarders we’re proud to call clients must be the same received by the smaller operators we support. At Maze, everyone is a VIP client.”

Whilst the last eighteen months have thrown up a host of challenges, Steve Snelling says: “We’ve tackled the trials of the global pandemic head-on and have weathered its storm well. Inevitably there’s been issues, but these are industry-wide. Regular and honest dialogue with clients keeps everyone up to date, and for us, it’s been about pulling out all the stops to achieve 100% customer satisfaction.”

Corporate social responsibility is something that Maze Logistic Solutions is passionate about. Steve continues: “It’s important to us as a company that we support others, and breast cancer and prostate cancer research are causes close to our heart. In addition to donations to both charities, we’ve had two of our tractor units liveried to help raise further awareness. Both have received such positive feedback from the logistics community, and it’s a great feeling to do something good.”

With ten years under its belt, what does the future hold for Maze Logistic Solutions? Director Ryan Jiggens interjects: “That’s an easy one. We’re unveiling our tenth-anniversary truck in September. Then, it’s about continuing to work smartly and innovatively and remembering that happy customers keep coming back for more.”

For a dedicated management resource for all surface transportation and warehousing, contact mazesolutions.co.uk

Road Freight goes green with £20m funding boost

Road Freight goes green with £20m funding boost

28.7.2021 | Haulage

ROAD FREIGHT GOES GREEN WITH £20 MILLION FUNDING BOOST

Government encourages fleet operators to convert to battery-electric vehicles. 

£20 million funding boost to accelerate the rollout of zero-emission road freight

Successful projects include the trial and demonstration of 20 battery-electric DAF trucks by Leyland Trucks, an electric road system feasibility study in Yorkshire and a green hydrogen truck feasibility study focused on Scotland

Announcement follows the government’s transport decarbonisation plan, in which a consultation on phase-out dates for the sale of new non-zero emission heavy goods vehicles was launched

Funding to boost the UK’s transition to zero-emission road freight, supporting industry and creating jobs has been announced yesterday (27 July 2021).

Pioneering £20 million zero-emission road freight trials, funded by the Department for Transport and delivered by Innovate UK, will help to develop innovative solutions to support the uptake of zero-emission trucks.

Using learning from field testing battery-electric vehicles in a real-world environment, and from undertaking feasibility studies, these activities will help to design and develop cost-effective, zero-emission heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and their refuelling infrastructure right here in the UK.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“Through our bold and ambitious transport decarbonisation plan, we’re leading the way in the transition to zero-emission vehicles by becoming the first country in the world to commit to ending the sale of all new fossil-fuelled road vehicles by 2040, subject to consultation. 

“From Doncaster to Scotland, by working in partnership with industry, this funding will allow us to better understand the role of zero-emission HGVs while levelling up the industry and boosting regional economies.”

Successful projects include an ‘Electric Road System’ feasibility study, led by Costain Ltd, considering a 20-kilometre stretch of road near Scunthorpe for a possible trial of electric road systems. Electric Road Systems supply battery-electric trucks with electricity from overhead catenaries via a pantograph enabling HGVs to charge dynamically.

Meanwhile, a hydrogen fuel cell feasibility study, led by Arcola Energy Ltd, will design a possible future trial of hydrogen fuel cell trucks and new refuelling infrastructure in Scotland.

These projects, along with 4 other successful feasibility studies, aim to prepare for a potential demonstration of zero-emission freight technologies at scale on UK roads and will support the rollout of zero-emission technologies to decarbonise heavy transport vehicles.

Commercial vehicle manufacturing company Leyland Trucks will be deploying 20 DAF battery-electric trucks for use by public sector organisations to support the uptake of battery-electric trucks, enabling learning to be gathered from field testing vehicles in a real-world, real-time logistics environment. The investment in an interactive tool will de-risk, aid and encourage fleet operators to convert to battery-electric vehicles. This is an important step in the transition to zero-emission road freight.

This announcement follows the launch of the government’s transport decarbonisation plan along with the consultation on a phase-out date for new non-zero emission HGVs – showcasing our ongoing support for industry to develop new and innovative technologies that will help the UK to meet net-zero by 2050.

UK government minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said:

“It’s great news that a study involving Scottish utility, logistics companies and the University of St Andrews to design a potential trial for hydrogen fuel cell trucks and new refuelling infrastructure has received a share of £20 million UK government funding.

“The UK government’s transport decarbonisation plan will help the country build back greener from COVID-19. With Glasgow firmly on the world stage later this year for the COP26 summit, these projects are vital to show how the UK is innovating to help save the planet.”

Rob Lawton, Project Manager, at Leyland Trucks, said:

“We’re delighted to have been selected to play such a key role in the initiative and we’re proud to be leading the drive towards a cleaner, more sustainable future for the road transport industry.

“We believe our LF Electric and CF Electric vehicles offer the best solution for zero-emissions operation and we’re confident that the results from our NHS and local authority partners will support our own extensive and long-term testing programmes.”

Richard Kemp-Harper, Strategy Director at Arcola Energy, said:

“We’re pleased to be leading this initiative to decarbonise heavy-duty transport. The study will enable us to expand the application of Arcola Energy’s A-Drive fuel cell powertrain platform to a critical group of HGV operators that can benefit from Scotland’s strong potential for green hydrogen production.”

William Wilson, CEO of Siemens Mobility Limited, said:

“Investing in proven technologies like eHighways can help us go further and faster to decarbonise the UK’s transport network, and support jobs and growth to level up the country.”

By building on successful trials from other countries like Germany, our ERS consortium M180 trial will help the UK move a step closer to replacing more polluting trucks with clean, efficient electric HGVs.

Source: GOV.UK