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Government Proposes Trials of 48 Tonne Lorries on Specified Routes within 50 miles of a RailFreight Terminal

November 16, 2020 1:22 PM

48 Tonne Multi-Modal Container HGV (Rail Insider)The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced a consultion to run from 9 November 2020 to 4 January 2021 about the possibility of a limited trial for heavier HGVs to carry containers of 48 tonnes laden along specified routes starting at a railfreight interchange.

The core of the proposal is for 6-axle articulated lorries run by specific operators to operate at 48 tonnes, while continuing to follow other existing rules, including maximum axle weights. These operations would:

  • be restricted to specific routes
  • likely be limited to a maximum journey length (proposed to be 50 miles)
  • have to be part of domestic intermodal (road and rail) operation within Great Britain


Containers imported or to be exported via the Channel Tunnel are included but journeys to or from a port are not. People in the East of England Region and/or close to the A14 will doubtless be pleased to hear this - residents near Park Street near St Albans less so.

The argument put forward in favour of this trial are that most goods have to continue a the final leg of their journey by HGV along the road network, but this relaxation of the rules will allow a proportion of shipping containers to be transported onwards and delivered to their final destinations for opening and emptying there - rather than loads having to be broken down and reloaded onto smaller HGVs at the railfreight terminal itself. The argument goes on to say that this will encourage railfreight by making it more efficient and reduce the areas needed for railfreight interchanges.

Contrary arguments are that there will be an increase in wear and tear on the highways along the routes that will be used and that many bridges will need to be strengthened. Plus the familiar "slippery slope objection.

However consultees must make their own arguments for and against the proposals within the consultation format.

You may respond to the consultation by e-mail only to IntermodalHGVConsultation@dft.gov.uk.

Full details are available from: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/heavier-intermodal-freight-trial/48-tonne-intermodal-freight-trial-consultation-document