'No evidence' for longer heavier lorries says new research
17th October 2007
A new examination of the Government’s own statistics, commissioned by Freight on Rail, undermines on the case being made for longer heavier larger lorries.
The research, undertaken by independent transport consultants MTRU, found that rather than reducing the number of lorries needed, all previous increases in vehicle dimensions did nothing to halt heavier, larger lorries doing more mileage and driving around with ever lower load efficiency. Heavier lorries use more fuel and so the lack of any efficiency improvements has meant more CO2 emissions as a result. This evidence undermines the Government’s justification for permitting previous increased lorry dimensions and questions the validity of current arguments for LHVs. This is crucial because the Government is currently evaluating whether to allow trials of LHVs (25.5 metres long, 60 tonne in weight).
Philippa Edmunds Freight on Rail Campaigner said, “We do not believe the argument that LHVs will lead to less lorries and less pollution. The reality is that there is no evidence to support the economic and environmental arguments to society for LHVs. Previous increases in lorry dimensions have lead to an increase in 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 running around empty.”
She added that “LHVs, best described as ‘roadtrains’, have huge road safety implications, are opposed by the public 1 and could in effect become travelling warehouses. The road haulage industry has a poor record in complying with existing road regulations which puts other road users at risk every day.”
The research found that
1 There is no evidence nationally that previous increases in size of HGVs led to a reduction in traffic from HGVs either in the number of HGVs see Figure 2 page 7 and figure 5 page 11 or total HGV traffic (measured as vehicle kilometres). (figure 4 page 9 from attached report Heavier lorries and their impact on the economy and the environment - MTRU October 2007
Source: Transport Statistics Great Britain (TSGB)
2 Despite several increases in maximum weight and volume, the average payload has fallen instead of rising which means that emissions per tonne carried have increased rather than decreased see figure 2 page 5 and Fig 5 Page 9 in report. 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
3 Cheaper HGV travel would encourage more use for a combination of reasons.
4 Emissions from HGV traffic have grown significantly since 1990, by 25-30%, using the revised DEFRA assessment. HGV traffic is an important source of greenhouse emissions from transport, second only to cars/vans and to international aviation, (see figure 1 page 3).
There is no direct evidence that the predicted benefits from heavier and larger lorries have materialised (see figure 4 & 5 page 8/9). The precise reasons for this need further research, but the hypothesis that hauliers always “buy the biggest” is borne out in the registration statistics, and helps to explain the lack of any discernible efficiency improvements (see figure 3 page 8). This is not to say that some individual operations, focussing on a continuous stream of bulk goods from one place to one other place, have not benefited from heavier and larger lorries.
MTRU is an independent transport consultancy founded in 1989 Web site: www.mtru.com. Contact Keith Buckan at Kbuchan@mtru.com
Link to high resolution version of this LHV photo on German road trial which shows the scale of LHVs beside other vehicles http://www.gueter-auf-die-schiene.de/
Please note that German Transport Ministers voted to reject LHVs on 13th October 2007 after its trials highlighted the increased risk for road safety.
However, unlike other European countries, the UK allows all vehicles to operate on any road and at any time unless specifically prohibited from doing so.
Road safety concerns
Road haulage has a poor record in complying with existing road regulations
Environmental and economic benefits of rail
An average freight train can remove 50 HGVs from our roads with an aggregates train removing 120 HGVs 6.
LHVs would undermine rail freight and lead to modal shift to road
Attached report - Heavier lorries and their impact on the economy and the environment - MTRU October 2007
1. NOP Poll August 2007 found that 75% of people opposed LHVs and that 80% favoured more rail freight instead.
2. Oxera Research for EWS found that up to 40% of aggregates and 20% of metals carried by rail could switch to road May 2007. Freightliner research showed that up to 66% of container traffic could revert to the roads.
3. Most UK competition swimming pools are 25 metres short course Olympic.
4. Focus on Freight December 2006 chart 5.2b Deaths/KSIs in accidents involving HGVs per million km travelled.
5. From the Evening Standard June7th 2007.
6. Network Rail 2007.
7. EWS report and analysis by Oxera May 2007 findings that nearly half of existing rail freight traffic in commodities such as aggregates will transfer to road if LHVs were permitted.