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2008-12-16 DfT-001
Department for Transport


Transport Secretary renews focus on freight

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Department for Transport

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Department for Transport

Transport Secretary renews focus on freight

16 Dec 2008 10:21
source Department for Transport
type Press release

note DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT News Release (198) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 16 December 2008

A new environmentally friendly approach to transporting freight was announced today, as Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon published a blueprint for working with and supporting the industry.

With Britain's freight doubling over the last forty years, the Government is looking at the effectiveness of the current system and the most efficient way to transport goods.

Geoff Hoon said:

"We have a world-leading freight industry, which contributes significantly to the economy of this country whether by road, rail, water or air. I want to make sure that we keep Britain moving, mindful of our natural environment.

"I want to work closely with freight stakeholders so we remain competitive. That is why I am publishing this document today and I look forward to seeing greater cooperation to reduce congestion and increase capacity on our networks."

This new approach for freight comes on top of the £67 million already committed to cutting freight costs and emissions, which includes projects such as the Safe and Fuel Efficient Driving (SAFED) programme, which has recently trained its 10,000th van driver.

Over £330 million was also announced last month to allow more freight on the East Coast Mainline and North London Line, reducing congestion and delays for both freight and high speed passenger services.

Today's document 'Logistics Perspective' concludes that:

* Freight is key to the competitiveness of the UK economy.

* If funding is properly directed, reliability can improve dramatically with reduced levels of congestion and lower emissions.

* Government and industry will need to continue working together to understand the impact freight has on the environment as well as noise and accident levels.

* Driver training has an important part to play in improving emission levels.

The document also recognises the benefits of finding ways to reduce the impact of freight in urban areas, cutting congestion and noise pollution. It also considers the distribution of freight around the country and where traffic levels are likely to increase in future. Understanding this gives transport planners the knowledge base to make sure routes and modes are used as effectively and efficiently as possible for both freight providers and the public.

The Department for Transport is also beginning a study into the length of articulated lorries (semi-trailers). The research will look at whether a small increase of up to 2 metres in length would reduce congestion on the roads, due to fewer vehicles needed to transport lighter freight between their source and major distribution centres.

Notes to Editors

1. The publication can be found here; http://www.dft.gov.u k/pgr/freight/dastslogistics.pdf

2. It covers four main areas:

* a high level overview of the nature of freight transport in Great Britain, identifying key commodities, geographical locations and the strengths and weaknesses of different modes (chapter 1);

* a summary of the external impacts of freight movements, particularly in terms of congestion, pollution, CO2, noise and accidents (chapter 2);

* an overview of the Department's role in the sector, setting out how key regulatory and investment decisions fit into a broader framework (chapter 3), identifying some of the main issues to be addressed in the next 5-10 years (annex A to the document); and

* an explanation of how freight will play a prominent role in decisions to be reached for the period 2014-19 and beyond as set out in "Delivering a Sustainable Transport System", the transport strategy document published on 25 November.

2. The overall messages are that:

* the Government values the key contribution that the freight industry makes to the competitiveness of the UK economy.

* the input of the freight community (customers, providers and staff) will be vital in determining future transport investment priorities; and

* to maintain a world class logistics sector in a low carbon world Government and industry will need to work closely together to develop a better understanding of the impacts of different freight commodities on the national networks.

2. The draft draws extensively on statistical material from the Department's longstanding freight surveys, as well as containing a number of new analyses that help to illustrate the Department's new focus on freight issues. Much of the document is based on stakeholder input, including from a day-long 'listening to industry' event held in central London earlier this year attended by some 70 industry practitioners.

4. In June Ministers announced the decision not to allow the largest so-called "super-lorries" to be used on UK roads. This was based on research into the scope for longer and/or heavier HGVs in the UK, undertaken for the Department by TRL. This found that super-lorries could lead to an overall increase in CO2 emissions, create serious implications for the management of the road network and introduce new safety risks. But it also showed that that there could be worthwhile benefits from permitting a modest increase in the length of current articulated vehicles.

5. The Department is therefore undertaking a further market study of the potential benefits and impacts of extending the length of articulated HGVs by up to 2.05m - to inform a decision on whether to increase vehicle trailer dimensions. This will focus on the use that business will make of these vehicles, be undertaken in close dialogue with industry stakeholders and include consideration of the potential impacts on modal shift.

Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk

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