trailer on motorway

Operators will be kicked off the 10-year trial of longer semi-trailers (LST) if they attempt to sell their allocation, the DfT has warned after at least one participant tried just that.

In a letter sent to trial participants this summer seen by, former transport minister Mike Penning said he was pleased with the progress operators in the trial had made, but was concerned that companies were considering putting their longer semi-trailers allocation up for sale.

Penning wrote on the 18 June: “I have learned, with some concern, that some operators are putting their allocations up for sale. I am instructing officials that where they have evidence that a trial participant is seeking to dispose of its allocation to the highest bidder, that participant’s authorisation to participate in the trial will be revoked with immediate effect.”

A DfT spokesman confirmed to MT that the department’s position remained similar despite the recent cabinet reshuffle that saw Penning move on. “He nipped it in the bud. He had been made aware of rumours running around about sales. From our position there were no sales that went ahead.

“We were aware of one case and it didn’t go through. They are free to exchange without charge but they have to inform us who holds the allocation.”

In the letter, Penning confirmed there had been a number of calls made by operators trying to rebalance their trailer allocation between the 14.6m and 15.65m variants. “While I understand the frustration of those operators who have not been able to obtain as many vehicles as they would have wished, it is important to remember that this is a research trial and that I announced the number of vehicles at either length as part of the trial at the time I called for expressions of interest.”

The DfT confirmed that successful trial participants have until December 2013 to decide if they will exercise their right to put their allocation of longer semi-trailers into operation on the road.

“Allocation is progressing,” a spokesman said. “From the response we have had, they will definitely all be taken up.”