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 Freightinthecity.com 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.



Noise app could help freight operators build better relationships with local residents

RH Environmental will be hoping to make some noise – though not too much – when it arrives at the Freight in the City Spring Summit in Birmingham next month.

It will be displaying its Noise App technology, which it hopes hauliers and delivery firms will use to foster better relationships with neighbours and city residents and businesses.

Free to download, the Noise App helps the user record instances of noise nuisance on their phone, record a diary of recordings to prove long-term effects and allow the user to report the incidents to local authorities or enforcement agencies.

“The app is transforming how noise problems can be reported and resolved,” said Michael Fennessy, sales & support at RH Environmental. “By cutting the significant costs associated with following up noise complaints, it is being widely adopted in the UK.

He added: “For businesses operating in noise-sensitive inner city environments, the app improves community engagement and helps resolve complaints quickly and efficiently.

“Because it is hassle free, with no expensive or specialist equipment needed, it is popular with residents and the professionals investigating noise problems.”

Since it was launched in 2015, the app has processed more than 50,000 noise reports and is used by 100-plus organisations including police forces, councils, housing associations and construction companies.

“We’ve designed the app using an intelligent case management facility enabling our clients to deploy it easily to filter genuine cases and maintain contact with local residents quickly and efficiently through a secure infrastructure,” said Fennessy.

“By using the app around noise-sensitive sites, businesses and stakeholders can be assured that noise is being reported reliably and that genuine cases are picked up.”

There are no road haulage or freight customers as yet, but Fennessy is confident that will soon change.

“The idea around us being at the Spring Summit is to potentially get delivery companies to take on the app as a direct line to their surrounding resident,” he said.

“So instead of residents complaining straight to the local authorities and having to engage in large investigations, residents can complain directly to the delivery companies and they can offer simpler solutions and police their own noise nuisances.”

Find out more by coming along to the Freight in the City Spring Summit held on 1 March at Edgbaston Stadium. Make sure to reserve your free place today!

By David Craik

Truckminder Worldwide to bring its tool theft defence systems to Freight in the City

Tackling tool theft will be on the agenda for Truckminder Worldwide when it lines up at the Freight in the City Spring Summit next month.

Truckminder Worldwide, which aims to help reduce fuel theft and fuel spillage across the fleet and haulage industry, is now striving to protect tools through its new product ToolDefend.

“We know that tool theft is currently a huge problem in the industry and a real threat to businesses. Indeed, the cost of replacing tools can run into thousands of pounds,” said a spokesman.

“Thieves can override car and van alarms, disarm the locking system and simply help themselves to all the tools. We can help you combat this by installing the ToolDefend alarm system which will immediately kick in if there is an attempt to steal your tools.”

The system works by an accelerometer in the sensor that detects vibration and waveforms that are associated with drilling and other forms of tampering.

Once detected, it will sound the alarm with users also able to have a GPS option which will send a text warning that an attack is taking place.

Truckminder specialises in technology specifically designed to prevent catalytic converter theft.

Its customers include commercial fleet owners, van rental and van owners and motorhome dealers and owners.

“We strive to keep your business running by providing an alarm system that will deter thieves from targeting your vehicle. Our aim is to keep insurance premiums down as well as avoiding the costly headache of vehicles being off the road and in the repair shop,” the spokesman added.

Fors team to focus on driver and manager training at Freight in the City Spring Summit

Aecom, which manages and operates Fors, will be focused on ramping up driver training when it hosts a stand at the Freight in the City Spring Summit next month in Birmingham.

It will outline the recent introduction of Fors Professional, which it describes as a comprehensive package of essential training for managers and drivers.

“It will be delivered with cutting-edge content to help operators meet the Fors standard,” a spokeswoman said. “Fors Professional is designed to improve knowledge and professional standards for any commercial vehicle operator, addressing in detail today’s safety and efficiency challenges.”

Aecom stresses that all Fors Professional training is fully approved and meets Fors, Clocs and TfL’s Work Related Road Risk requirements. It also provides Jaupt-approved driver training delivered by qualified professionals.

Fors is a voluntary accreditation scheme that promotes best practice for commercial vehicle operators.

With more than 4,350 members, Aecom said it is gaining recognition as the transport industry’s “go-to accreditation scheme”.

It encompasses all aspects of safety, efficiency, and environmental protection by encouraging and training fleet operators to measure, monitor and improve performance. It also provides accreditation pathways for operators of any type, and for those organisations that award contracts and specify transport requirements.

“Fors members stand out from the crowd,” the spokeswoman added. “They work to standards above the legal minimum and have access to a wide range of exclusive benefits that provide a real competitive advantage.”

Find out more by coming along to the  Freight in the City Spring Summit held on 1 March at Edgbaston Stadium. Make sure to reserve your free place today!

By David Craik

Brigade Electronics brings HGV safety into focus at Freight in the City Birmingham

Brigade Electronics will be heading to the Freight in the City Spring Summit in Birmingham next month to help hauliers reduce the risk of road collisions.

The group will be exhibiting its demonstration vehicle fitted with products to reduce the risk of collision, detect vulnerable road users and in addition improve insurance premiums.

In particular, the focus will fall on its Backeye360 next-generation camera monitor system.

“It takes four camera views and displays them as one seamless image on the monitor. This eliminates the need for split screen images and reduces driver distraction,” a spokeswoman said.

Also on display will be Brigade’s digital recording system, MDR, which it states is ideal for providing evidence in the event of a collision or crash-for-cash scam.

“MDR is good practice for operators who want a process to record and review incidents, traffic collisions and reported near-misses as required in Fors and Clocs specifications,” the spokeswoman added.

Brigade has also launched a new finance scheme to help operators struggling with the cost of vehicle safety devices required for site specifications and tenders.

The lease scheme offers customers the opportunity to spread the cost of equipment in monthly payments across three to five-year plans. They can also add extended parts and labour warranty and fitting costs in the overall price.

This is supported by Brigade Service Partners, which offer nationwide fitting and support for anyone that has bought the Brigade brand.

Find out more by coming along to the Freight in the City Spring Summit held on 1 March at Edgbaston Stadium. Make sure to reserve your free place today!

 By David Craik

UPS talks urban delivery trials ahead of Freight in the City Birmingham Summit

UPS director of sustainability for Europe, Peter Harris, shares some of the work taking place across European cities ahead of his appearance at Freight in the City Spring Summit next month.

Global parcel carrier UPS is to trial a brand-new urban delivery concept in London this year.

The company plans to operate new electrically-assisted cargo containers in London’s busy Westminster area, in an effort to reduce the emissions and congestion associated with increasing van usage in the capital.

Technology used on the ‘e-trailer’ is termed net neutral, so the weight of the trailer is not felt by the handler, allowing for increased volumes of last-mile deliveries by foot or cycling.

The trailer is being developed through the Low Impact City Logistics project, which is part of a £10m research investment by InnovateUK for collaborative R&D to improve end-to-end people and freight journeys.

It is planned that a number of the e-trailers would be preloaded at the UPS centre in Camden before being brought in on a larger trailer towed behind a normal delivery vehicle for helpers to then make the final mile  by foot or cycle.

Peter Harris (pictured), director of sustainability for Europe  at UPS, tells Freight in the City that the concept for the trailers was a natural extension to an urban delivery operation that has been running in Hamburg, Germany for a number of years.

This sees a number of urban micro depots – large containers, much like the size used for sea freight – positioned around the city.

The containers hold enough volume for several helpers to work from throughout the day, delivering parcels by foot, bike or e-trike.

The helpers also collect parcels from residents and businesses in the city centre and return them to the containers for pick-up at the end of the day by one lorry.

“So, instead of it being trucks moving around in the city all day, it’s one truck in and one truck out, and the rest of the time we’re using zero-truck transport, which is the ambition to try and get trucks out of the city and the emissions and congestion that go with them,” explains Harris.

The Hamburg model is now being expanded to other European cities.

Mega city

“But when we came to thinking about London, we thought we probably need a slightly different approach here,” says Harris.

One of the key challenges was London’s density, he says, as a mega city, with the option of siting a number of large containers on valuable road or pavement space being unlikely.

Also, the option to deliver by trike might prove tricky in London’s bustling streets, making foot delivery with an e-trailer a more practical proposition.

To overcome all these challenges, UPS is working within a consortium including the University of Huddersfield, Westminster City Council, Fernhay, Skotkonung and Outspoken Delivery to develop the e-trailer technology and prototype.

“At our central London depot in Camden, the e-trailers will be positioned  on the belt just as our normal trucks are” says Harris.

“The trailers will then go down-town already loaded into drop order.”

To avoid the need to drop-off large container units across the city, e-trailers will be delivered by a transfer trailer pulled by a regular distribution truck. This will likely hold around six units, although this has not yet been finalised.

Timescale for rollout of the e-trailers has yet to be confirmed, but will take place this year.

Urban focus

The project is just one element of the move towards sustainable deliveries taking place in the UK by UPS.

For example, the company has just deployed its 52nd electric truck in London

“They’re mostly conversions from diesel, which is quite interesting in its own right because a version of the style and configuration that we wanted didn’t exist, so we developed our own  working with a German technology firm called EFA-S,” says Harris.

UPS carries out the strip-down and refurbishment of the older trucks used itself ahead of the electric conversion by EFA-S.

The company has received funding through its work on the FREVUE project that aims to establish the feasibility of electric commercial vehicles in real-life operations across Europe.

Project work has included significant expenditure to overcome the challenges of charging multiple electric vehicles from the grid at one time.

“We actually went through a major expenditure in London to achieve this. We don’t want to do this again as it’s very expensive and it’s not moveable. Nor is it incremental.

“So what we’re proposing instead is a smart grid facility that would connect our vehicles to the grid in an intelligent way and look for available capacity within the existing supply,” Harris says.

“If we can make that work, and we are hoping to do it in conjunction with UK Power Networks Services, then it could potentially open up a completely new realm of opportunity for urban electrification.”


The company is also planning to introduce 15 more range-extended electric 7.5-tonne Tevva Motors trucks into its fleet (pictured).

And gas-powered trucks are also a key player in the UPS alternative-fuelled fleet, with the company operating 19 HGVs on LNG from its Tamworth depot.

“The challenge is that we want to run them on renewable gas, but it’s just not available in liquid form. So we’ve had to fall back on LNG” says Harris.

“There needs to be new infrastructure put in place to capitalise on this new market.”

Harris believes the UK is well placed to be a leader in terms of renewable fuels expertise, with a political framework supportive of driving such developments forward.

As such, the UK continues to be a pivotal market for UPS to trial new emerging technologies and developments.



Astra Vehicle Technologies to help tackle blind spots at Freight in the City Birmingham

Astra Vehicle Technologies is ready to help the industry fight the problem of blind spots when it takes part at the Freight in the City Spring Summit next month.

The group will demonstrate its Astra ClearView safety systems, including its retrofit low level passenger door windows to help drivers cope with the challenges of the “urban jungle”.

Director John Chadderton says the windows, created after collaboration with HGV manufacturers, help to improve direct vision by reducing the crucial blind spot area situated to the nearside of a vehicle.

He adds that this is achieved without imposing significant additional cognitive load upon the driver.

“Despite the many mirrors applied to modern vehicles, blind spots in heavy goods and construction vehicles have been demonstrated to be significant in recent modelling exercises completed for TfL,” Chadderton said.

He added: “Our range of low level windows cover a number of current popular vehicle makes and models.

“Uniquely it is the only retrofit window product that does not detract from the provisions of the vehicle manufacturer by maintaining full operation of the original passenger door window.”

Chadderton said another benefit of the Astra ClearView system is that it provides a large low-level window area which is both ’e’ marked and fully bonded with a similar SIKA-tested process to that used within vehicle manufacturing.

The range is available for fitment via 20 depots nationwide, using SIKA-process trained installation engineers.

For more information, you can meet the team at the City Spring Summit held on 1 March at Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingam. Make sure to reserve your free place today!

By David Craik

Fleetdrive Electric heads to Freight in the City Birmingham to help operators switch to ULEVs

Fleetdrive Electric will be heading to Freight in the City Spring Summit next month to share its experience in ultra-low-emission vehicle (ULEV) leasing packages.

A ‘Go Ultra Low’ company, the firm said its team’s extensive knowledge of ULEVs can provide vital support and guidance for fleets looking to make the switch to electric.

Offering a free and impartial fleet analysis, Fleetdrive Electric can identify practical operational uses where electric vehicles could generate long-term savings for an organisation.

It can deliver advanced CO2 reporting, cost-comparisons with petrol/diesel alternatives to highlight the whole-life vehicle costs and efficiencies, and offer effective recommendations to reduce the environmental impact of a client’s fleet.

The company can also identify the most suitable vehicles available for your business needs, offer information about charging options and grants, ensure you get optimum performance from an electric vehicle and support you with practical operational advice.

Fleetdrive offers all makes and models of cars and vans available in the UK and, being completely independent of any manufacturer or franchised dealer group, said it provides unbiased advice to make sure you get the best value for money.

Driver training is also offered, as well as carbon footprint monitoring and accurate forecasting data.

“Our unique EV flexi-lease service enables fleet operators looking to explore how electric vehicles can realistically add benefit to their organisation to take a trial on a commitment-free flexible lease arrangement,” a spokeswoman said.

“With extendable contracts from as little as 30 days, electric cars and vans can be tried and tested within a practical environment to fully assess the feasibilities. It also provides an eco-friendly solution for short-term vehicle rental.”

Fleetdrive Electric will be on hand to talk to visitors about making the switch to ULEVs at Freight in the City Spring Summit held on 1 March at Edgbaston Stadium.

Make sure to reserve your free place today!

By David Craik

MP Rob Flello to speak at Freight in the City Birmingham 1 March

Freight in the City is delighted to welcome MP Rob Flello as keynote speaker to open next month’s Spring Summit in Birmingham.

The Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent South chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Freight Transport, as well as being a member of the House of Commons Transport Committee.

He has recently taken part in a hotly debated inquiry into urban traffic congestion, calling for research to be undertaken into whether newly constructed cycle lanes are a help or a hindrance to reducing congestion.

More than 350 visitors have already booked their free place to attend the Freight in the City Spring Summit, which will address the issue of improving last-mile freight journeys in urban areas.

A full day’s speaker programme features projects taking place in the West Midlands region, Birmingham City, Greater Manchester, Southampton and London.

You’ll also hear from a number of operators about best practice delivery operations already helping mitigate the impact of freight on city environments, as well as a look at some of the emerging trends to hit the sector.

In between sessions, make sure you take time to visit the exhibition area and check out the latest vehicles, equipment and services to aid your urban haulage operation.

For early birds, looking to make the most of the exhibition and networking opportunities, Mercedes-Benz will also be making sure a bacon roll is available for you to enjoy from 8.15am.

Freight in the City Spring Summit takes place on 1 March at Edgbsaton Stadium. It is free to attend, but you must register to secure your place.



Effective last-mile freight is vital to support growth, says Transport for West Midlands


Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has said applying “ingenuity” to the region’s transport system is essential to keep pace with surging business and population growth.

Speaking ahead of next month’s Freight in the City Spring Summit in Birmingham, Mike Waters, head of policy and strategy at TfWM, said effective last-mile operations would play a vital role in this aim.

“As a dense urban area built on a legacy of manufacturing, which is regenerating into a new generation of advanced manufacturing and engineering, having effective last-mile freight solutions in place is becoming increasingly vital to the West Midlands,” he said.

As well as the region’s urban roads network needing to support a complex existing supply chain that drives a major proportion of UK export GDP, Waters added it was also essential to meet the needs of a growing residential population.

Indeed, the West Midlands has forecast significant urban population growth over the next few decades that will add the equivalent of a city the size of Liverpool to the region.

“At the same time we are the centre of the UK’s automotive R&D activity and inventing and exporting solutions to the rest of the globe,” Waters said.

“Our challenge is simple – we must apply the engineering ingenuity we are exporting to our own transport system in order improve the efficiency of both.”

The West Midlands Freight Strategy document has been published, and contains action plans to promote more sustainable logistics movements to support economic growth across the region.

Martin Reeves, chief executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority and Coventry City Council, will be speaking about work to improve the region’s transport system at Freight in the City Spring Summit on 1 March at Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham.

This free-to-attend event brings together key decision-makes from the public and private sector to debate the challenges and solutions to adopting cleaner, safer and more efficient urban freight movements. Book your free place today!