Reducing HGV journeys

DF12 TZU 01 MANReducing HGV journeys

You might be forgiven for thinking that improving the transport of goods around the country is almost entirely down to extending the road network and to spending yet more public money on doing so.

After all, that is the apparent message in the government’s unveiling on the 1st of December 2014, of a road investment strategy involving the investment of no less than £15 billion by 2020 in order to increase the capacity and condition of England’s highway network.

The plans are almost certain to be hailed by the nation’s haulage industry and we at Isis Insurance for one look forward to any improvements to the road network having a knock-on effect in helping to reduce the cost of commercial vehicle insurance.

So far, however, the reception has been somewhat mixed. According to Lloyd’s Loading List, for example, the British International Freight Association (BIFA) gave a cautious welcome to the news but reserved any more optimistic a reception until planning is turned into action. The Freight Transport Association (FTA), on the other hand, was apparently more fulsome in its reception of the road investment strategy.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury has described such spending as being vital for the creation of what he calls a world class infrastructure for the country. The scheme envisages the construction of an additional 1,300 miles of new lanes on trunk roads and motorways.

Although the government recognises that 90% of the national haulage and distribution network is conducted by road, however, sections of the haulage industry itself appear also to applaud inventive schemes for relieving the pressure on the road network.

The Scottish experiment

The magazine for the haulage industry, UK Haulier, for example, gave headline news in November 2014 to moves designed to divert a significant volume of goods from the roads to the sea.

The goods in question are sawn-timber products to be transported from a state of the art new sawmill at Corpach in Scotland to southeast England’s port of Tilbury. Previously carried by road, the timber is now to be transported by sea.

The move is expected to put an end to more than 6,300 journeys by heavy goods vehicles and relieve pressure on particular bottlenecks and areas of congestion typically encountered on journeys south.

The diversion of sawn timber from road to sea has been made possible by funding of almost £1 million in the shape of a Waterborne Freight Grant, which aims to make sure that companies do not lose out by diverting the carriage of goods from the roads to the sea, thus doing their part to relieve the pressure on the road network.

The combination of a reduction in HGV journeys such as this, together with the planned expansion and improvement of the road and motorway networks may indeed help to create the world class haulage and distribution infrastructure envisaged by the Secretary to the Treasury.