Leach, David Z. and Savage, Christopher J. (2012) High capacity vehicles: an assessment of their potential environmental, economic and practical impact if introduced to UK roads. In: Proceedings of the 17th Annual Logistics Research Network Conference. Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport. ISBN 9781904564447

Purpose: In the United Kingdom (UK), the length of a goods carrying vehicle is limited to a maximum of 16.5m for a standard articulated vehicle and 18.75m for a draw-bar combination, although the impact of extending the length of an articulated vehicle to a new upper limit of 18.55m is currently being evaluated through operational trials. This study assesses the environmental, economic, and practical impacts of increasing the maximum length of vehicles in the UK to 25.25m, while maintaining the maximum gross weight at the current UK limit of 44 tonnes. The scope is limited to the consideration of 25.25m vehicle variants that are currently in use in the Netherlands.
Research Approach: The research carried out a review of relevant reports, surveys and data from academic, government and stakeholder groups. These were then summarised to provide a baseline summary. The output from this is extended and challenged using a multiple aspect methodology that included: interviews, practical observation, and case study based modelling; for example, the potential benefits of the use of HCVs within case study companies have been explored through detailed modelling of transport operations. The findings from the various research components are combined and triangulated to draw conclusions on the impact of the use of such vehicles on the UK's roads.
Findings and Originality: The findings are promulgated and evaluated under general headings, which include: Environmental, (e.g. fuel consumption, modal shift risk & net emissions impact), Economic impact & Practicality. The detailed findings beneath these broad headings include conclusions from the literature reviews, stakeholder views, calculations, and case study material as well as risk assessment where appropriate. Originality is imparted by the combination of theoretical and specific practical data drawn from industrial case studies.
Research Impact: The research impact is twofold: firstly it brings together data from disparate sources to draw its conclusions thus providing consolidated base data for subsequent work. Secondly, the evaluation's conclusions gives a reasoned view on all major aspects of the potential use of these vehicles that has been designed to both satisfy academic requirements and inform potential legislators.
Practical Impact: This study finds that permitting the use of HCVs in the UK under controlled conditions will reduce transport costs, has the potential to reduce carbon emissions and will not compromise the safety of road users. Practical constraints will limit application in some circumstances, but there is a significant opportunity to improve the efficiency and sustainability of freight transport and to achieve cost reduction in the transport of low density goods.
Specifically, this report concludes that the introduction of HCVs in the UK would:
• Lead to substantial economic benefits to the shippers of low density goods
• Substantially reduce C02 emissions of current road freight transport
• Make a useful contribution to a reduction of congestion levels
• Would not have an adverse impact on road safety

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