Wincanton was one of the first operators to have an LST on the road

Wincanton was one of the first operators to have an LST on the road

The DfT has said a decision will be made in due course on the rigidity of the December deadline for operators to take up their allocations of longer semi-trailers as part of the government’s 10-year trial.

It comes as the latest trial data shows that more than a year on from the trial’s start, vehicle special orders (VSOs) have been granted for only 420 longer semi-trailers out of the total 1,811 allocation.

The longer variant (15.65m) is proving more popular, with VSOs issued for 337 of these compared with just 83 of the 14.6m longer semis.

A DfT spokesman said it wanted to give operators “as much flexibility as possible” when it came to participating in the trial.

Trial supporter Wincanton, which has 16 units in operation (at both lengths), said it will have its full allocation of 69 longer semi-trailers on the road by the deadline.

Technical services director David Rowlands told MT: “The trailers are being used for longer and lighter contracts. They are used in our major retail contracts and are even double-decked and still under the 44-tonne limit.

“Retail and some food manufacturing sectors are where we see these vehicles adding real value.

“The loads are lighter, meaning more goods can be moved in one go, and also along longer routes, avoiding places like city centres.”

Rowlands added that while not appropriate for every route, if used intelligently longer semis will be hugely beneficial to operators as part of the overall transport mix.

See the 4 March edition of MT for an in-depth look at the longer semi-trailer trial.