News that government is looking for operators willing to trial longer heavier vehicles (LHVs) up to 25.25m in length and at 60 tonnes gross vehicle weight (GVW) has sparked a wider debate about what sort of combinations might be permitted.

At Road Transport Expo's Business & Technology stage, Hazcomp MD Kevin Buck laid out what the future might look like.

He said there are some compelling reasons why 25.25m long vehicles at 60 tonnes GVW should be introduced, including better working efficiencies and to help ease the driver shortage.

“Once you get to 40 tonnes GVW, the efficiency curve does start to level out, but it does continue to improve. The difference between operating at 40 tonnes to 60 tonnes creates a 15% per tonne kilometre improvement in efficiency, which is significant,” Buck added.

Going from 16.5m overall length to 25.25m would generate a 38% reduction in a hauliers ‘operational equipment’, he said and explained that: “To move 404,830 pallets you would need 138 trucks but with the longer vehicles that would be reduced to 93 trucks.”

Using a traditional 13.6m long semi-trailer, the options include it being pulled by a 7.8m prime mover, a tractor unit and eco-link trailer and semi-trailer creating a ‘roadtrain’, or a traditional truck and trailer pulling a drawbar trailer.

Buck said likely downsides would be parking and routeing - although he added that any trial would be restricted to arterial routes - and the move to alternative fuels restricting range.

However, he said the general consensus is that the industry and public want this. “I think there is a perception that these vehicles are going to be everywhere,” he said.

“That's not actually the case. Most people have said that an LHV would probably make up to 15% of their fleet maximum. So, what LHVs are going to do is enhance an existing fleet operation and not become the entire fleet operation in their own right.

“This is about bringing efficiency to large scale volumetric movements that are trunking up and down the motorways.”