Direct Vision Standard for trucks is unworkable, warns BVRLA

TfL’s plans for a new Direct Vision Standard for trucks is unworkable, according to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA).

Responding to TfL’s Direct Vision Standard consultation, the BVRLA said more road safety evidence is needed to justify the proposed changes. It also called for a national policy on direct vision rather than a unique standard for the capital.

Under the direct vision proposals a rating system from zero to five stars would be imposed on HGVs entering the city, based on the level of unaided vision the driver has from the cab.

Although not yet finalised, it is understood that trucks fitted with low-entry cabs would typically score highly, perhaps the full five-stars.

From 2020 trucks with a zero-rating will be banned from the capital, and by 2024, TfL wants trucks achieving less than a three-star rating to be excluded from London.

It has been reported that this could see approximately half of all HGVs currently operating in London banned from the capital by 2024.

The direct vision proposals are in response to the level of HGVs involved in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in the capital, which TfL said in 2014/15 stood at 22.5% and 58% respectively.

Commenting on the proposals, BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney said: “We welcome the mayor’s attempts to improve road safety in London, but while his intentions are noble, he’s approaching this the wrong way.

“Installing a window in the door panel [seen as a possible, partial solution] of every truck that our members operate is not feasible, and there is only a limited number of low entry cab vehicles on sale. TfL needs to provide more robust safety evidence to justify the changes – it should clearly explain how this new standard will work.

“BVRLA members are already improving road safety in the capital, as they have invested heavily in cyclist detection systems, sideguards and cameras. While rental and leasing companies are unable to endorse the proposals as they stand, we have told TfL that we want to help the mayor meet his goals.”

The association is calling for a national road safety framework. Keaney said: “Road deaths are not just an issue in the capital. Any new standard should be applicable for all cities in the UK, not just London.

“Our members hire out HGVs across the country to enable companies to conduct their business. One day a vehicle might be needed in Birmingham, and the next it could be required to travel into London.

Companies should not be forced to make separate considerations solely for work in the capital,” he said.

Fors membership grew 22% in 2016

Fors membership climbed 22% in 2016, totalling more than 4,400.

In its review of 2016, Fors said its number of gold accredited operators rose by 49%, and silver by 69%.

The year also saw the first national Fors conference, and the fourth version of the standard.

It boosted its auditor numbers by a third in order to meet the increase in demand.

Fors director John Hix said: “We’re delighted the scheme is continuing to grow, and we’re particularly proud of the regional growth over the past 12 months.

“As a result, we have increased the number of auditors by 30% to cope with demand from operators across the transport sector – from the ‘man-with-a-van’ through to national parcel delivery fleets.”

He added he was “particularly pleased” with the boost in gold membership, which was made more challenging in the new standard.

The increase, said Hix, “shows real commitment by Fors members to improvements in their operations and in taking steps to implement Fors further throughout their supply chain”.

The report confirmed that membership and audit fees would not be increasing in 2017.

“We believe this is the right thing to do, delivering value to members as they strive to raise standards across their industries,” the report said.

Hix added: “We expect 2017 to be another dynamic year. We will continue to work with our members to raise standards across the industry – to work towards safer, greener and more efficient operations,” said Hix.

Amsterdam uses operational incentives to encourage electric freight vehicle use in city

The city of Amsterdam is encouraging uptake of electric freight vehicles (EFVs) through operational perks in busy urban areas.

A partner in the Frevue scheme (Freight Electric Vehicles in Urban Europe), Amsterdam has been trialling incentives to boost EFV usage in the city including the use of zero-emission deliveries in its own supply chain.

It has found some of the most effective actions have been operational incentives for freight companies using electric vans and trucks.

Since March 2015, 20 vehicles from seven logistics companies have been granted traffic regulation exemptions based on their own delivery patterns and geographic requirements.

These enable the operators to park in restricted zones, unload directly to the pavement, deliver during time-restricted periods and even enter certain pedestrian areas.

Operators of the EFVs involved in the trial have reported increased driver productivity as a result of the exemptions, including:

  • Shorter walking distance – this saved on average between 15 and 45 minutes per driver, per day.
  • More drops – operators were able to make an extra 4-5 drops per hour compared with diesel vehicles with no exemptions.
  • Loading – average unloading savings were around 4-5 minutes per stop, saving up to 30 minutes per day.
  • Driver stress – as drivers normally have to pay their own fines if unable to find parking, less anxiety from guaranteed parking spots increased productivity, as well as reducing conflict with other road users when seeking a place to stop.

The city’s report said it was pleased with the outcome of the pilot and will work on broadening the scheme to the whole of the city.

It will also be considering feedback from operators involved in the trial as to how to further incentivise the use of EFVs.

These include a call to widen the current delivery time windows in Amsterdam, which are  strict and often only allow a one-hour period for deliveries to be made; use of tram lanes for EFVs to bypass congestion; stricter parking enforcement on other road users parking in loading bays; and a wider scope for traffic exemptions beyond the city centre.

Frevue has produced a free-to-download factsheet with full details of the incentives trialled in Amsterdam.

The Frevue project works with a number of European cities and logistics operators to provide eveidence on the viability of using electric freight vehicles for emission-free urban deliveries.



Live from the Clocs Conference and Exhibition 2017

Now in its fourth year, the Clocs Conference and Exhibition is one of the leading showcase events for urban vehicle safety. Freight in the City reports live from the event at London’s ExCel.

Geodis reduces freight journeys and emissions in Paris through Distripolis scheme

An urban delivery initiative deployed across Paris by French operator Geodis has reduced its freight journeys by 20% and CO2 by more than 1,000 tonnes a year.

Geodis sales director Kevin Huskie (pictured) told delegates at the Freight in the City Spring Summit that the Distripolis programme is designed to lessen the effect of freight deliveries on an urban environment.

It was developed in 2011 as a way for Geodis to lead by example in promoting more sustainable city deliveries.

As France’s largest logistics operator, with a 40% market share, Huskie said the company believed it had a responsibility to drive change and encourage more sustainable urban deliveries.

Before it implemented Distripolis, Geodis used multiple distribution centres on the outskirts of Paris for its key divisions, such as express parcels, groupage and reverse logistics operations. Each one would send multiple vehicles into the city centre throughout the day.

But with Distripolis, Geodis uses one main consolidation centre on the outskirts of Paris, with goods travelling during the night into smaller city centre ‘blue bases’ of less than 250m².

Own or subcontracted ultra-low-emission vehicles or power-assisted tricycles are used to make the final mile delivery from these inner-city bases.

The advantages to the urban community have been improved traffic flow, due to fewer trucks on the roads; reduced air and noise pollution; a more attractive city centre that still meets local businesses’ needs; and compliance with all local regulations, such as time-restricted deliveries.

Huskie said the initiative had “massively reduced road miles and made a big difference in Paris”.

“The target was to remove 1,700 tonnes of CO2 emissions. In year one, we achieved a 365-tonne reduction of CO2 and are now achieving more than 1,000 tonnes.”

Geodis wants to roll out Distripolis in Lille, Strasbourg and Marseille, and aims to reach every city in France.

However, because the UK marketplace is much more fragmented, Huskie believes collaboration is the key to achieving a similar effect here.

Earlier this year, Geodis announced an extension to its UK night-time deliveries initiative.

Are low-emission zones helping drive urban logistics innovation?

Low-emission zones (LEZs) in cities are driving forward innovation in urban logistics, delegates heard at the Freight in the City Spring Summit in Birmingham.

Laetitia Dablanc, director of research at the French Institute of Science and Technology for Transport, Development and Networks, said there were around 200 LEZs operating in 12 countries across Europe.

Many capital cities across Europe now prevent access to older, more polluting vehicles to varying degrees, with countries such as Germany and Italy using LEZs in all medium-sized cities as well.

Dablanc conducted a survey about the impact LEZs had on the urban freight sector in London, Berlin and Gothenburg – you can read the findings of that survey here.

As well as a decrease in the number of freight miles undertaken within LEZ zones, Dablanc also discovered a reduction in the number of smaller operators.

She told delegates: “I don’t think this is a bad impact. I think it is good for the industry of urban freight, which has seen too many very small freight companies that lack the size to modernise their fleet and invest in their technology, or organise deliveries differently.”

Despite a positive trend towards sustainable urban freight models, 95% of deliveries into city are still made by diesel truck or van, she said: “95% of deliveries may be better off as a result of LEZs.”

Her research also found that LEZs had been more widely accepted in cities than originally thought, while the role of the rental sector had gained more prominence as operators looked for cleaner fleet vehicles

Dablanc also touched on the potential of extending the amount of out-of-hours deliveries taking place across cities globally.

She told delegates how New York City’s latest trials had led it to now include expansion of out-of-hours deliveries and noise monitoring in its transport strategy.

Businesses taking part had reported fewer delays, faster travel speeds and millions of dollars saved through parking tickets.

Flello urges operators to approach government ‘loudly and clearly’ at Spring Summit

Freight operators were today urged to act “loudly, clearly and collectively” in any approach to government ahead of full Brexit negotiations.

Speaking at Freight in the City Spring Summit, Labour MP Rob Flello reiterated a plea made to industry last year for operators to voice plans for improving freight policy as a matter of urgency.

“All government departments are going to be log-jammed for years to come unravelling the legislative implications of Brexit,” said Flello (pictured, right).

With the DfT likely to be dominated by HS2 and Heathrow’s third runway, he said any ideas put forward by the freight sector must be have an easy-to-verify upside and preferably no departmental expenditure or effort.

“Make good arguments now or see them lost under the deluge of post-European legislative noise about to engulf us all,” he added.

Focusing on today’s summit theme – ‘Improving the last mile’ – Flello acknowledged that this was the most visible and politically-charged element of all deliveries.

“Lorry drivers are seen as the cause of urban congestion, pollution and the shortening of lives in our cities.  The caricature of ‘white van man’ as the careless, selfish road hog, rather than the person who’s bringing the stuff we all need is an unfair but prevalent one,” said Flello.

Addressing calls to switch to greener modes of transport through purely penalising diesel vehicles was not a “magic bullet in a world where consumers demand next-day delivery or better”, he believed.

Instead, smarter use of existing roads such as night-time deliveries, better responsiveness to varying traffic flows, intelligent management systems including traffic lights and sharing out the roads more efficiently should be encouraged as an immediate measure.

He also called for a national, integrated transport policy to be developed by central government.

In addition, Flello believed support of the GB Rail Freight Route could be a cost-effective and vital approach to removing freight from roads.

About 12% of UK freight goes by rail, whereas across the rest of Europe this figure is 15% and rising, he said.

“The GB Freight Route could take hundreds of thousands of lorries off our roads each week.”

The idea is for a dedicated line from London, through the Midlands and into Scotland and Wales following 480 miles of existing or disused track.  It would be a roll-on, roll-off system with lorries carried on the train.

Flello said it’s calculated to use a third of the fuel the road journeys would consume and produce 70% less CO2.

“Major supermarkets are already keen and at just six billion quid it’s about a tenth the price of HS2 and would take just five years to complete,” he said.

“It’s currently being considered by the National Infrastructure Commission and, with all the things going for it HS2 doesn’t have – cost, deliverability, carbon positivity, lack of invasion of the Green Belt and unquestionable economic benefit – it must be supported.”

Greater Manchester and Transport for the North invite operators to freight forum

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is inviting operators to come along to its second Logistics Forum on 7 March to address the challenges and opportunities for the freight sector across the region.

The event will bring together key speakers from TfGM and the freight sector, as well as three workshops in the afternoon focusing on: vehicles; urban deliveries; and consolidation.

Helen Smith, head of logistics, environment and active travel at TfGM, said: “It’s very important to us that the forum is a partnership between the public and private sectors, working together to identify challenges and put into practice solutions to support the environmental, social and economic ambitions of the city region.

“The March summit will focus on highways projects, consolidation, alternative fuels and the implications of a possible low-emission zone for freight in the region.”

She added that the afternoon workshops would consider ways to best support the forum’s activities and will help develop pilots and case studies for sustainable freight and logistics practices, “which are scalable and give tangible results”.

“It’s intended that the Forum is a channel for collaboration, consultation and sharing of best practice, and we hope that it will in time be recognised as a significant voice for the industry in Greater Manchester.”

Directly after the logistics forum, there will also be the opportunity to take part in a workshop run by Transport for the North (TfN), which aims to garner operator feedback for its Strategic Transport Plan (STP) under development.

TfN wants to enable an open discussion to ensure the needs of the freight and logistics sector are met by the STP proposals.

The events both take place on 7 March at Innside, 1 First Street, Manchester, M15 4RP.

TfGM’s forum will run from 09.30am to 2.30pm (including lunch), with the TfN workshop held from 2.30pm – 4.00pm at the same venue.

To find out more about the speakers and register, email:



London’s vehicle emission surcharge to start 23 October

London’s T-Charge will come into force from 23 October taking the daily charge for non-compliant vans and trucks travelling into the capital to £21.50.

Regular visitors into central London are likely to comply with the emissions surcharge as it is set at the same Euro-4 and above level for HGVs as London’s Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is.

However, those running vans face a step up from the LEZ’s Euro-3 requirement to Euro-4.

Unlike the LEZ, cars are included in the T-Charge and will need to be Euro-3 or above.

Non-compliant vehicles face a £10 penalty on top of the £11.50 Congestion Charge Zone fee. TfL has said the vast majority of pre-2006 vehicles will face paying the charge – around 10,000 vehicles.

The T-Charge will operate in the same area and Monday to Friday operational window as the Congestion Charge Zone.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It’s staggering that we live in a city where the air is so toxic that many of our children are growing up with lung problems.

“That is why today, on the 14th anniversary of the start of the congestion charge, I’ve confirmed we are pressing ahead with the toughest emission standard of any major city, coming to our streets from October 23rd .

“Londoners overwhelmingly support my plans to introduce this £10 charge because they feel when it comes to battling pollution the time for action is now.

“The T-Charge is a vital step in tackling the dirtiest diesels before I introduce the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone as early as 2019.”

The Ultra Low Emission Zone will mean all vans and lorries will need to be Euro-6 to avoid paying a daily charge of £100 for HGVs and £12.50 for vans. The ULEZ will be in operation 24/7.

Find our if your vehicle is affected at TfL’s emissions surcharge checker.

Urban Transport Group urges DfT to take a more ‘ambitious’ approach to freight strategy

The Urban Transport Group (UTG) has urged the government to take a more “ambitious, open and forward-thinking” approach to freight strategy.

Speaking to ahead of next month’s Spring Summit in Birmingham, MD Jonathan Bray said the DfT had left a “big hole” where freight strategy should be, with more work needed to address this issue.

He added. “Historically, it’s tended to be about responding to short-term issues and working closely with existing freight lobbies.

“With a lot of the interesting things happening on freight, the DfT is a bit of a bystander really.

“I think the DfT needs to take a more ambitious, open and forward-thinking strategic approach to freight.”

UTG has been working with cities to help address this lack of national focus, so they can see the benefits from working freight into their strategic transport plans.

It has undertaking research into the challenges from increasing levels of urban deliveries, and highlighted actions they could take to mitigate the impact in its report Delivering the Future.

“We’ve tried to make the freight debate more accessible to decision-makers in cities. I think the freight debate has a tendency to be locked into a lot of detail and long lists of issues,” said Bray.

“Senior decision-makers only have so much bandwidth. They want the simple way forward, not just a list of 120 problems.”

UTG suggests a formula that can be adopted in any city: transport more long-haul freight into the sub-regions by rail or water – although not ignoring the capacity constraints for modal switch – while ensuring last-mile deliveries have as little impact as possible on the urban environment.

Living cities

Cities are also increasingly setting transport strategies in response to the ‘place-making’ agenda, said Bray: people wanting places for people, with less space for vehicles, no matter what their purpose.

Far more emphasis is being placed on the urban realm and more value is being placed on city centres, all of which is exacerbated by a need to address air quality issues.

“I think the air quality imperative will get more acute with the third version of the government’s air quality strategy. I suspect it may be a more serious piece of work than the previous two,” added Bray.

“What’s happening as well is that the rest of the available road space is being squeezed and all the lobbies want their space: the active travel lobby – cycling isn’t going away and nor should it; the bus lobby is very vigorous in wanting their bus lanes; and freight and logistics need space to deliver.”

“The squeeze is on roads capacity,” warned Bray and a wider debate needed about future streets, which bring together both place-making and urban transport planners.

Embracing change

He wants to encourage the freight and logistics sector to become more engaged in the vision for future cities and the wider service agenda, as there could be plenty of opportunities for operators.

“The freight and logistics sector is very quick to take on new tech and innovation, but when people are talking about smart cities, they are thinking about apps and Uber and start-ups,” said Bray.

“The freight sector is naturally very preoccupied with logistical operations, but I think it could also present itself as a partner in the move towards smarter cities in some of these initiatives.”

A little history

UTG brings together Britain’s largest metropolitan transport authorities under one organisation to address both passenger and freight movements.

Members include the likes of Transport for West Midlands, Transport for Greater Manchester and Transport for London (TfL).

Historically, the work undertaken by UTG – formerly known as the Passenger Transport Executive Group until January 2016 – had predominantly focused on passenger travel.

However, as more and more cities began to move towards combined authorities, UTG realised a more holistic approach to all modes of travel, including freight, was needed and a name change.


At the same time that UTG shifted its focus, TfL came on board as a full member and brought with it “a huge amount of expertise”.

“They are one of the most admired transport authorities in the world right now. Certainly when I speak to people in other parts of the world they always speak very highly of London.

UTG takes a specific approach to its coverage of freight, looking to ensure it is included in the wider debate about what is happening to transport in cities.

Bray says that for too long freight has remained at the edges of transport planning debate, and its inclusion in city-wide strategies is long overdue.

“And I think that we’ve come a long way in a short space of time to mainstreaming freight within cities’ transport debates. It’s no longer kept at the margins as a fringe topic,” he adds.

UTG enables cities to share best practice and learn from other regions about the best ways to address urban freight deliveries.

“We offer cities the opportunity to work together and piggyback off existing research rather than have to do it all again themselves,” says Bray.