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Truck weight to rise to 48 tonnes – for intermodal triallists only

[ November 9, 2020   //   ]

The Department for Transport’s (DfT) is proposing a limited trial of a higher, 48-tonne weight limit for trucks in intermodal operations. Recalling the higher limit for intermodal operations in the last century, before the current blanket 44-tonne limit was introduced, trucks would have to have six axles and the trial would be limited to specific operators.

Vehicles would also have to comply with existing constrains of the current road infrastructure, such as bridge capacity and some current routes may not be permissible, said Logistics UK.

Those taking part in the trial will also be required to comply with other existing rules, such as maximum axle weights, and it is likely that they will be limited to a maximum journey length, currently proposed to be 50 miles. Operators are also required to be part of domestic intermodal – road and rail – operations.

DfT proposes that the higher limit would be limited to for repetitive container loads that travel along a set route, with the operations liable to happen frequently, feeding into scheduled trains operating on one or more days a week.

But the DfT warns: “Accommodating a trial within the existing load-bearing constraints of bridges and other infrastructure is not straightforward, and it may not be possible to include some otherwise useful routes. The design and state of the national stock of bridges and infrastructure rules out a wider consideration of allowing 48-tonne operation outside specified and authorised routes.”

Consultation is ongoing until January 2021.

Commercial road transport operators interested in taking part in the trial are invited to register their interest and provide information on some more detailed technical questions in the impact assessment.

Bridge owners are also invited to consider the implications.

Bridge owners are invited to consider implications on their infrastructure and operation.

Secondary legislation is likely to be needed to allow the trial to take place, says DfT.

Head of engineering policy at Logistics UK, Phil Lloyd, welcomed the trial, saying that it would

improve efficiency of the supply chain and support the use of rail freight. He added: “Currently the maximum laden weight for a six-axle articulated lorry on the roads of Great Britain is 44 tonnes. Allowing a 48-tonne operation would therefore enable a reduction in the number of journeys required to service each train, resulting in reduced road congestion and lower emissions.” 

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