Don-Bur recently spoke to Philip Martin, Head of Policy Branch at the DfT, to clarify the current position on the Longer Semi Trailer (LST) trial which started in January 2012 with 1,800 allocations.
Almost 5 years on, the trial is in full swing with virtually all allocations fulfilled within approximately 160 operators; however, industry rumours have arisen about a potential trial "extension" and we wanted to set the records straight.
Martin confirms that an extension is being considered and that may apply to the number of allocations or trial duration or both. No firm confirmation has been offered and we are unlikely to know until next year. Interestingly, he did suggest that the reason behind the extension lay in the fact that there is currently insufficient data relating to urban operation.
For many operators, this news is perhaps a little surprising given that LSTs are used predominantly for trunking operations and, by their very nature, will spend less time in urban environments. What is clear is that, without a clear analysis of potential risk, the DfT are unlikely to consider LSTs for derogation when considered for Construction & Use (Dimensions & Masses).
If an LST was contracted back in 2012, some 3PLs may be wondering what their options are to dispose of the asset given that it may have reached the end of its contract life. When questioned, our DfT man gave an encouraging response. The required VSO (Vehicle Special Order) originally issued to the operator is associated to the trailer, not the operator. What this means is that operators can sell an LST with relative ease; the new owner simply having to apply to the VCA for the VSO to be "transferred" to them. The only thing the new owner then has to do is to register the transfer with the DfT and assume the "Operator Undertaking", which includes regular reporting back to the data collection agency, 'Risk Solutions'.
In the detailed 2015 Evaluation report published in August this year, there are some impressive figures.
Regrettably, despite the obvious benefits, it is apparent we may have to sweat out the trial for some time to come.