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Longer semi-trailer trial stuck in wrong gear, admits Department for Transport

  • 13 June 2013
  • By Chris Druce

The Department for Transport (DfT) has conceded its pilot of longer semi-trailers has stalled due to operator apathy after a year and a half of the ten-year trial.

With around six months to go until the deadline to put the 1,800-plus trailers (at 14.6m and 15.65m) on the road, approximately 500 are in operation.

“Given the current rate of take-up, it is highly unlikely that the 1,800 figure will be reached by December 2013,” the DfT said in a statement.

An investigation by CM at the turn of the calendar year found appetite for the longer semi-trailers had cooled, while last month trailer manufacturer Lawrence David called for the 14.6m length to be scrapped.

While the latest DfT figures show that just over 100 of the longer semi-trailers on the road are at the 14.6m length, the department has refused to ditch the shorter length and has instead launched a consultation proposing the current 31 December deadline is scrapped instead.

If accepted, the trial would continue at the 14.6m and 15.65m lengths, with no additional lengths or weights above the current 44-tonne maximum to be considered.

First come, first served

Instead, operators would be able to apply to run longer semi-trailers on a first come, first served basis, within a few months. This time permissions would be valid only for two to three months to stop people holding onto their allocations without putting units onto the road. This process would continue until the 1,800 longer semi-trailers were running on UK roads.

Existing allocations would be honoured up until the 31 December deadline and then become void as previously planned.

Operators wishing to take part would still be limited to a maximum of 180 trailers each, or the equivelent of 20% of their current semi-trailer fleet (although no one in the current trial has this amount of allocation).

Leasing companies are still not allowed to take part in the trial, and those with existing allocations are welcome to apply for more up to the caps.

The new proposals contrast with the DfT’s  position at the start of 2013 when it issued a “use them, or lose them” warning to operators taking part in the pilot.

The consultation will end on 9 July.

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Article source: http://www.commercialmotor.com:80/latest-news/longer-semi-trailer-trial-stuck-in-wrong-gear-admits-department-for-transport