DfT looks to end longer semi-trailer trial and open up market

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The Department for Transport is looking to bring an early end to the longer semi-trailer trial, and bring in lighter regulations to the operation of trailers both 14.6m and 12.65m in length.

The trial has been in place since 2021, and the DfT said that there were now 2,565 longer-semi-trailers in operation on UK roads. It said that the trial had shown that 54 million to 60 million vehicle km had been saved by the operation of longer semi-trailers (up to the end of 2019) – a saving of 48,000 tonnes of CO2 and 241 tonnes of NOx between 2012 and 2019.

Some 228 commercial vehicle operators had provided data for the trial.

The DfT said it was now consulting on ending the current trial – as sufficient data had already been produced.

“Although planned to run until 2027, we believe the trial has reached a point where continuing is unlikely to provide useful results and that remaining issues, relating to the safety, can only be answered outside of trial settings,” the DfT said in a statement on its website.

The DfT said that its preferred consultation option was a lighter additional regulatory option, which allowed the whole of the freight industry to have unrestricted access to longer semi-trailers. it said that this would make an important contribution to reducing emission levels.

It also said that this option would remove the cap on the total number of longer semi-trailers permitted and would allow the market to decide the quantity in operation based on commercial need. Currently there is a cap of 2,600 trailers allowed to run on UK roads and the DfT is forecasting that some 12,541 longer semi-trailers would be in operation by 2025.

The consultation will accept submission for the next three months before publishing the findings.

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