There are some new developments in platooning and smart motorways here in the UK. To help both fleet owners and heavy haulage drivers, we’ve rounded up the latest heavy haulage updates. There are updates about platooning and UK smart motorway plans.
Platooning in 2019
Last year, in May, we discussed the trial of a new platooning initiative here in the UK. Since that initial test, DAF continues to explore platooning, and is participating in a two-year trial led by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory.
DAF stress that platooned trucks still require a human driver in the cab, to take control in the event of an emergency. Mercedes, however, have switched focus away from platooning trials. They argue that it doesn’t offer enough fuel savings, and they are exploring self-driving trucks as an option instead. However, they will continue existing platooning projects with partners.
Daimler and Daum are also stopping research into platooning. Like Mercedes, they argue the technology doesn’t save enough fuel to justify the investment. Despite this, the Department for Transport continues to trial the technology here in the UK.
DB Schenker completes first successful trial
German logistics firm DB Schenker has completed the first real-world platooning trial using two MAN trucks. A professional driver drove each truck over a distance of more than 21,000 miles. The trucks travelled at a distance of between 15 and 21 metres apart.
Each driver commented on the driving comfort and sense of safety the trucks provided. The trial saved 4% in fuel consumption. This suggests that platooning still has a future.
Smart motorways in the UK
In a previous article, we discussed the topic of smart motorways. Work has recently been completed on a section of the M1 to turn it into a smart motorway.
The road between junctions 23a and 25 of the M1 has been remodelled in a two year, £120 million project. Changes include variable speed limits, an additional traffic lane on the hard shoulder and alerts on gantries if a lane is closed.
Drivers on this smart motorway are subject to £100 fines if they don’t use it properly. The hard shoulder, for instance, is only available when indicated. Drivers must also conform to changing speed limits while using this road.
HGV registration on the rise
HGV registrations have risen by 21% in the first quarter of 2019. Rigid truck registration has also increased by 13% year on year, while Artic (semi-trailer) truck registration is up by 32.3% year on year.
Tipper and Box Van bodied truck registration has also increased by 18.2% and 64.4% respectively (aka 1,221 and 1,493 units).
A66 Trans-Pennine upgrade in consultation
The government has launched a consultation on plans to dual the Trans-Pennine section of the A66.
The section of the A66 the government plans to modify runs between Scotch Corner and Penrith, and connects the Lake District and the North Pennines with the east of England. However, the road uses a mix of single and dual carriageways in its construction. This mix is responsible for severe congestion, as well as several accidents.
The Freight Transport Association believes dualing the section will have a positive impact on UK logistics. It also believes it will give the north of England’s network a much needed improvement.
Worries for the Welsh economy
Wales’ First Minister has scrapped an M4 relief road, though the Road Haulage Association warns this is a blow for the Welsh economy.
The scheme—which would have cost £1.4 billion—promised to relieve congestion and present Wales as a key business location. Its cancellation is likely to disappoint several firms expecting improvements to Wales’ infrastructure.
Richard Burnett, chief executive of the RHA, has said a good quality M4 is essential for the prosperity of the Welsh economy. Scrapping the M4, in contrast, makes Wales less attractive to potential investors.
RHA calls UK government to maintain UK-EU access
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has asked for clarity on ECMT permit numbers, to ensure International trade can continue after Brexit. They have argued that at the moment, there are not enough permits to go around.
The RHA statement follows a report from the House of Lords EU Internal Market Sub-Committee. The committee has also warned that demand for the permits is currently outstripping supply, jeopardising UK hauliers’ operations in the EU.
Uncertainty around Brexit is also impacting the UK’s competitiveness. At the moment, the UK is ranked as the 8th most competitive nation in the World Economic Forum—down two places when compared to 2017.
Brexit impact on trade
UK Haulier has recently published an article discussing the effect of Brexit on the transport industry. In a survey conducted by the British Business Association Institute of Directors, one in three UK companies are planning to relocate their business abroad.
However, many logistics professionals are also unconcerned by the effect of Brexit on their business. 2,860 of logistics professionals took part in a recent survey. The findings—reported by Stefan Rummel, Managing Director of Messe München— were that 38% of respondents were prepared for all eventualities, 50% aren’t directly affected, and 12% fear adverse effects from a hard Brexit.
The ferry route between Dover and Calais can expect increased congestion and waiting times in the event of an unregulated exit. The Netherlands also expects to be affected, since its supply chains have close links with the UK. As part of its Brexit preparations, the Port of Rotterdam has invested €1.5 million in its operations, and arranged buffer parking for trucks. Trading companies doing business with the UK from Rotterdam are expected to register their cargo at the port, with 4,200 companies likely to require both registration and custom checks.
No idling motors
Drivers that sit with their engines idling may be fined on the spot, under new plans by the government.
Paul Loughlin, a motoring law solicitor, has said these new plans will prove to be an effective deterrent and reduce pollution levels in towns and cities. However, it’s not clear how the government will enforce this rule at the moment. He calls on the government to explain how they will enforce this new policy. He also asks they keep drivers in the loop on it.
The new rule will most likely affect businesses and couriers who make deliveries. This is because they tend to make deliveries while leaving their vehicles idling. If they do this, they may incur fines of up to £1,000.
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