European Commission is currently evaluating longer heavier lorries
Freight on Rail welcomes the Government’s decision to reject trials of 60-tonne 25.5 metre lorries on UK roads and urges the Government to lobby against LHVs at the European level. The European Commission is currently evaluating whether to recommend longer heavier lorries, (25 metres 60 tonne weight) be allowed either across all member states, or with individual member states deciding. Either way, if LHVs get the go-ahead by the European Parliament, it could mean in the medium term that LHVs would come to the UK because of pressure from the road haulage industry.
Road and rail modes can complement each other but trunk movements of large quantities of freight can be more sustainably and more safely carried by rail rather than in ever larger lorries.
Freight on Rail does not accept the fundamental argument that underpined the case the proponents make for longer heavier lorries (LHVs); that LHVs would result in less lorries, less emissions and therefore less exposure to accidents. Research commissioned by Freight on Rail shows that previous increases in lorry dimensions have resulted in more lorries driving around less full, causing more road congestion and more pollution, which is the reverse of what was claimed would happen.
LHVs will mean more lorries and more pollution as previous increases in lorry dimensions have lead to an increase in Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) driving around less full, which is the absolute reverse of what was claimed would happen. Since the last increase in maximum weights, average vehicle occupancy has been going down and over a quarter of lorries are driving around empty. In 2005 27.4% of lorries were driving around empty whereas it was 26.4% in 2001.(see MTRU updated report Feb 2008 Heavier lorries and their impacts on economy and environment on Freight on Rail website www.freightonrail.org.uk/pressreleases
The claimed environmental benefits of LHVs rely on very high levels of load utilisation – in excess of that routinely achieved within the haulage sector. Therefore at lower levels of utilisation the environmental performance of LHVs would be worse. German trials showed that utilisation of above 77% for LHVs was needed for fuel costs to breakeven. In 2006 in the UK HGVs over 33 tonnes were only 73% full. Source Umwelt Bundes Amt August 07 and UK CSRGT 2006
Road haulage industry has a poor record in complying with existing road regulations
The number of UK registered HGVs being check weighed has decreased by 64% since 2003 although weight and drivers’ hours transgressions have more than doubled in same period 1.
LHVs have dangers of their own due to their size and lack of manoeuvrability
Stability of LHVs
Longer heavier lorries will have minimal impact on road congestion whereas an average freight train which is designed for heavy and bulky cargoes, can remove 50 HGVs from our roads. Source Network Rail 2007.
LHVs would undermine rail freight which has a much better environmental record than road
Trying to restrict LHVs to dual-carriageways and motorways simply will not work
Unlike other European countries, the UK allows all vehicles to operate on any road and at any time unless specifically prohibited from doing so. As a result, we will get these very large vehicles travelling down local roads that are wholly unsuitable for the purpose, with consequent intrusion, noise and road damage and safety implications. Where would drivers stop to take statutory breaks and would existing break areas be big enough for LHVs?
HGVs are up to 160,000 times more damaging to road surfaces than the average car; some of the heaviest road repair costs are therefore almost exclusively attributable to the heaviest vehicles. A 60 tonne lorry would be 4.7 times more damaging than a 44 tonne lorry on a suspension bridge. Professor R A SmithImperial College
The damageto underground structures (including gas and water mains, electricity and telecommunications) caused by existing HGVs has yet to be quantified.
Existing sized lorries are large enough
External costs of road transport
The research, Heavy Lorries: do they pay for the damage they cause? was produced by MTRU and peer-reviewed by Dr Tony Whiteing, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds.Taxpayers are subsidising lorries on Britain’s roads, new research shows
1. Parliamentary questions Derek Wyatt to Jim Fitzpatrick 19th May 2008