Time to build on ‘stonking success’

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Forget the 29 gold medals, 17 silver and 19 bronze. Forget the 680,000 overseas visitors who came to London. The most valuable legacy of the Olympic Games last year, for the logistics industry at least, is the realisation by our lawmakers that it is possible to deliver goods at night without causing massive disruption.

In fact, to quote London Mayor Boris Johnson: “The out-of-hours deliveries during the London 2012 Games were another of those measures which initially raised eyebrows but in practice were a stonking success. Businesses benefited by saving money and congestion was reduced across the capital. It is exactly these sorts of innovative solutions we need to explore to ensure we balance the conflicting demand for space on London’s roads and streets as our population continues to rise.”

As a result, there is now the opportunity to build on this with a sustainable increase in out-of-hours operations.  In its report, Delivering a road freight legacy, Transport for London has set out plans for a London Out-of-Hours Consortium, consisting of key boroughs, retailers, London Councils, the FTA and RHA to review re-timing activity and take the lead in delivering a sustainable increase in out-of-hours operations.

The aim is to launch a long-term trial for re-timing deliveries in December to demonstrate that effective behaviour change is sustainable. The plans also include developing guidance for boroughs and operators seeking to amend operating restrictions for re-timing and developing a driver training programme for quieter deliveries.

By December next year the aim is to complete additional trials for re-timing deliveries to demonstrate technology and vehicle modifications and overcome regulatory restrictions. Industry representatives such as the Freight Transport Association and Road Haulage Association have done well to win this opportunity to improve the way logistics is done in the Capital.

It’s a chance to get away from the traffic jams that plague the central areas even with the congestion charge, and introduce more efficient logistics services. And lessons learnt in these trials could have applications right across the country.

But the onus is now on operators to deliver nuisance-free services if night time deliveries are going to become part of the UK’s strategy for urban freight operations.

Malory Davies FCILT,

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