Truck and Track Spring 2024 Spring 2024 Truck and Track 11 BUSINESS NEWS New Direct Vision Standard rules will come into play later this year in London and we’re doing everything we can to help hauliers comply. Transport for London (TfL) is launching its ‘Progressive Safe System’ (PSS) for HGVs of more than 12 tonne gross weight operating in the capital from 28 October. This will apply to HGVs rated below three stars. Keeping people safe on our roads is absolutely our number one priority. But we’re concerned about the timescales TfL has imposed amid doubts that the required kit will be available, and the practical and affordability challenges firms face to fit it. The new rules are causing a lot of uncertainty for firms entering and operating in London and we’re campaigning hard to ensure our industry’s voices are heard. Supporting our industry through collaboration We’ve been working with fellow trade bodies to take wideranging industry views on the obstacles we need to tackle so that operators have the support they need to meet new safety criteria. Together with Logistics UK and the Association of International Courier & Express Services, we have been extensively lobbying TfL and London Councils. Hauliers affected by the upcoming changes consistently tell us that practical implementation of the new requirements from October are hugely challenging and, in many cases, not feasible. This ranges from whether there’s enough equipment available ahead of the deadline, to whether there are enough qualified technicians available to fit it. It’s worth reminding ourselves that there’s a widening shortage of heavy vehicle technicians available to service our commercial vehicle fleets across the country – something we’re working hard to tackle through lobbying government. These are points we’re raising in our regular conversations with TfL and the Mayor’s office, including Seb Dance, the Deputy Mayor of London for Transport. This all comes against the backdrop of affordability – especially for smaller businesses. The cost-of-living crisis is squeezing our industry and we’re seeing a huge number of hauliers going bust. More than 450 haulage firms went under last year – twice those in 2022 – amid rising operating costs (nearly 10%, excluding fuel) and significant falls in freight volumes (10%). We’ve warned that firms unable to comply in time might stop serving London at short notice which could lead to unforeseen problems in the capital’s supply chain and therefore its wider economy. Our asks of Transport for London We’re urging TfL to carefully listen to industry feedback, and we call on them to announce that existing vehicles would not have to be retrofitted with new kit – instead phasing in the criteria so that new trucks will be fitted with the equipment through natural fleet replacement cycles. We’re also calling on them to announce a reasonable extension to the grace period to allow kit manufacturers more time to supply the industry with what it needs to comply with PSS. Our conversations with TfL and London councils continue – and we will keep the industry updated with our progress. New rules for hauliers serving London from October How we’re lobbying for more support and what you can do by Richard Smith, RHA Managing Director We collectively convened a working group early last year after operators reported inconsistencies and challenges with abnormal loads enforcement. The group consists of the Heavy Transport Association, National Highways, Backhouse Jones Solicitors, National Caravan Council, Park Dean Resorts, Construction & Plant Association, National Farmers Union, Hiab, Ainscough Crane Hire, along with ourselves and other key operators within the industry. Hauliers have told us that inconsistency of enforcement increases bureaucracy and costs, and the knock-on effect can be felt in the wider economy, with projects getting delayed and potentially postponed. As a result, we have established strong relationships with the police, including senior officers from the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), along with a number of forces. We are all clear that safety is paramount on our roads, and our collective aim is to ensure that firms have the clarity and certainty they need to be able to move their customers’ goods efficiently and without additional bureaucracy. We recognise that the forces have a difficult job to do, and we know that abnormal loads are a complex field requiring specialist knowledge, experience, and consideration. Inconsistency can make it difficult for hauliers and their customers to find real-time, realistic solutions. The NPCC is working with the industry on a project to update the national guidance to reinforce their efforts to increase knowledge of the rules and improve cross-force consistency. We will continue to work together to share ideas, understand concerns and explore opportunities to benefit policing and operators. Working together with other stakeholders has given this campaign different perspectives, inputs and impetus than if any of us had tried to tackle this alone. It shows the value of collaboration and engagement as we strive to make sure operators have the confidence and clarity they need. Abnormal loads campaign – an update on our progress from Richard Smith, RHA Managing Director TRUCK & TRAILER SOLUTIONS WELCOME TOALLPORTS GROUP