How can we move freight with reduced environmental impact? Speaking in a session on Eco trucks at the Commercial Motor Show, Kevin Buck, MD of HazComp, highlighted the concept of the 25.25m long, 60-tonne GCW road train over seven, eight or nine axles.

As two such vehicles could be used in place of three standard 16.5m semi-trailer combinations, with 52 pallets being carried per vehicle rather than the normal 35, the benefits include improved efficiency and productivity, fewer trucks on the roads, reduced overall fuel consumption and reduced emissions, as well as fewer drivers being required.

Of the four possible modular combinations of truck and trailers, Buck said the B-double – comprising of tri-axle tractor with short tri-axle semi-trailer equipped with a second fifth wheel connected to a second 13.6m tri-axle semitrailer – is the best option.

These vehicles conform to standard construction and use limits with the exception of length and weight, but without additional axle loadings. With steering axles, they can comply with 16.5m combination steering requirements.

Parking may be an issue, however, and it may be necessary to restrict their use to main roads.

Thomas Hull, owner of Gnesta Frakt of Sweden, which has been operating 25.25m long B-double combinations in Sweden and Norway, said that compared with a standard articulated vehicle, fuel consumption rose by 20%.

More space was needed on corners, he said, but experienced drivers have had no problems. Parking is an issue so Hull recommended use of set depot-to-depot routes.

Andrew Malcolm, chief executive of the Malcolm Group, pointed to rail as another solution. Malcolm Logistics has been involved in multimodal road and rail transport since 2001 and has seen demand grow from two trains per week to two trains per night, via terminals in Grangemouth and Linwood in Scotland and the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT) in England.

The current service takes 68 loads per night off the roads for the rail section of the journey.

Malcolm also outlined the company’s planned “48 for 48” trial, which would see standard length 13.6m semi-trailers used at an increased gross weight of 48 tonnes under STGO regulations over dedicated and agreed routes for the 48 miles to the railhead, similar to the licence granted for the DfT’s longer semi-trailer trial.

The additional weight would not add to permitted axle loadings and would compensate for the additional weight of the container or swap body, compared with a standard articulated truck.

  • All the presentations were recorded and will be available to watch again until the end of October. Log in to the Commercial Motor Show website and clock on Conference to replay all three days' sessions.