London operators hit with lion’s share of PCNs, yet 70% successfully challenged at appeal

London goods operators are five times more likely to receive a parking ticket in London than anywhere else in the UK, according to a Freight Transport Association (FTA) survey.

Data from 85 companies that were issued between them a total of 16,043 tickets showed that 80% stemmed from London, with those fines also eight times higher than elsewhere.

A separate analysis showed a success rate of more than 70% when tickets in London were challenged.

FTA head of policy for London Natalie Chapman said this highlighted the fact that civil enforcement officers often handed out PCNs when drivers were delivering goods rather than illegally parking.

“Just because a truck is in a loading bay with its doors locked doesn’t mean it’s parked. The driver may have gone inside to get paperwork signed, or secured his lorry while making contact with the consignee,” she said.

“Better training is needed for enforcement officers to ensure they don’t ticket vehicles without just cause. Some operators are forced to employ people just to challenge tickets, or they pay a PCN appeals service to manage it for them.”

Low-Emission Commercial Vehicle plan to stimulate uptake of greener fleets in London

Transport for London (TfL) yesterday (22 July) announced a series of measures for freight operators, businesses, manufactuers and local authorities to boost uptake of low-emission goods vehicles in the capital.

In its Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Delivery Plan, TfL said it aimed to overcome the challenges and explore opportunities for stimulating greener technology and refuelling infrastructure in the commercial vehicle sector.

A Low-Emission Commercial Vehicle Programme would be launched this summer to co-ordinate these actions.

TfL noted that there was an enormous variation in the types of vehicle in this market, ranging from those with large depot-based fleets, through to sole traders with vehicles also used as private vehicles.

There were also issues with the vehicles themselves, with the additional weight from batteries impacting on the available payload and the higher up-front costs for van operators.

However, as commercial vehicle investment decisions are made on whole-life costs, TfL believed ULEVs could be attractive to fleet managers and business owners responsible for reducing fuel costs.

TfL said it would look to build on the relationships with the freight industry it had already established through the Construction Logistics and Cyclist Safety programme and the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme to help operators and receivers of goods minimise the impact of their deliveries on air quality.

It planned to lead by example by including environmental standards within its procurement requirements; inform and support fleet operators, boroughs, vehicle manufacturers and cleaner fuel suppliers to increase availability and uptake of low-emission CVs and their fuel needs; and prepare the frieght sector fot the launch of the Ultra Low Emission Zone in 2020.

Local boroughs should look to use local policy measures such as priority loading and micro-consolidation that uses ULEVs for last-mile deliveries to incentivise uptake among businesses and freight operators, as well as requiring their own suppliers’ vehicle to meet environmental standards.

Industry was urged to invest on the development of cost-competitive commercial ULEVs, while the government was called on to review the regulations on payload to help solve the issue of battery load taking payload over 3.5 tonnes in some instances.



Freight in the City Expo attracts big name exhibitors

The inaugural Freight in the City Expo is already attracting major industry manufacturers looking to demonstrate how fleets can be made, cleaner, safer and more efficient in their urban delivery operations.

Daf, Volvo, Isuzu and Iveco will be bringing along their latest urban delivery vehicles for visitors to explore, while technology giants such as Brigade, Tachodisc, Fuel Defend, Backwatch and Exeros will show you how to improve efficiency of your existing vehicles.

Representatives from the Eco Stars scheme will also be on hand to provide guidance to fleet operators on ways to drive down carbon emissions and make efficiency gains in fuel usage.

With more exhibitors signing up every day to take part in the expo, make sure you register today on to receive regular urban logistics news and event updates as they happen.

The Freight in the City Expo will be held on 27 October at London’s Alexandra Palace and comprise an exhibition and demonstration zone, alongside a comprehensive programme of seminars, panel debates and roundtables with industry experts.



Freight in the City seminar programme to provide practical, real-life guidance to improve city deliveries

The seminar programme is taking shape for the inaugural Freight in the City Expo on 27 October at London’s Alexandra Palace.

Split into three distinct work streams to cover all aspects of clean, safe and efficient urban logistics, the seminars will bring together operators, local authorities, businesses, industry experts and policy-makers to inspire delegates to push the boundaries of improving their city centre deliveries.

Presentations and activities will demonstrate the many successful urban freight schemes taking place both in UK cities and globally, and explore practical ways that can see such measures adopted at local level.

The clean work stream will look at the latest breakthrough technology available for making sustainable urban deliveries, such as viable alternative-fuelled HGVs and vans, and provide guidance on how to navigate the myriad of available grants and research to draw upon. It will also demonstrate real-life case studies of trials being carried out in partnership between operators, local councils and businesses and explain how collaboration is paramount.

Safe deliveries will be tackled in work stream two, which will cover the implications of existing and forthcoming legislation to urban deliveries, look at the latest equipment and training schemes to help delivery drivers navigate busy city streets, and examine how local authorities can work with all road users to help them share limited road space without incidents.

Finally, the efficient work stream aims to inspire delegates with innovative ways to get freight into city centres. Consolidation schemes, zero-emission last-mile drop-offs and out-of-hours deliveries are among the many successful schemes being used every day in UK cities to reduce congestion and make more efficient use of busy urban roads.

If you feel your company or organisation has the expertise to speak at one of our seminars about a topical urban logistics challenge, or there is a particular subject you’d be interested to learn more about at the expo, please contact

You can also register to receive the latest expo updates and a fortnightly round-up of Freight in the City news via email.

Iconic venue for Freight in the City Expo 2015

The inaugural Freight in the City Expo will take place at London’s historic Alexandra Palace this autumn.

The iconic venue, situated high above the London skyline between Muswell Hill & Wood Green, first opened in 1873 on Queen Victoria’s 54th birthday.

In 1935, the BBC leased the eastern part of the building and the first public television transmissions were made in 1936.

In more recent years, the Palace has built a reputation as one of London’s premier event venues. With its beautiful setting with panoramic views of London, stunning architectural features and well-proportioned halls, the Palace is a popular choice for both corporate and private events. RYA-dinghy-show-2009-1000x6641

“We have selected Alexandra Palace as the venue for the inaugural Freight in the City Expo because it offers a fantastic exhibition space large enough for articulated trucks to drive straight into and it has great links to the M1, M25 and North Circular,” said Laura Hailstone, project manager of Freight in the City.

“Unlike purpose-built exhibition venues, Alexandra Palace has plenty of character and charm and will enable us to provide our exhibitors and visitors with a fantastic experience,” she added.

For visitors driving to Freight in the City Expo, the Palace has complimentary on-site parking for 1,500 vehicles. The venue itself is just 1 mile from the North Circular; 5 miles from the M1; and 8 miles from the M25.

For those travelling by public transport, both Wood Green underground and Alexandra Palace overground stations are close by, with a free shuttle bus running throughout the day of the exhibition collecting visitors from both stations and dropping them at the door of the Palace.

“The other bonus about the venue is that it provides us with the necessary infrastructure to set up a truck washing facility adjacent to the venue for any exhibitors showcasing trucks and vans,” said Hailstone.

The leading truck manufacturers have all shown a strong interest in exhibiting at the Expo. Details of confirmed bookings will be announced in the next edition of Freight in the City News (8 July).



Viewpoint: Volvo’s John Comer on alternative fuels

John Comer, Volvo Truck’s product manager UK & Ireland, shares his thoughts with Freight in the City on carbon reduction and alternative fuels

Alternative fuels bring with them some very interesting challenges as not all fuel types suit all operations. Some offer a carbon reduction because they are sustainable and therefore close the carbon loop. Some offer a carbon reduction on the vehicle. When it comes to carbon and the climate change effect, the process has to be measured from ‘well to wheel’ and of course this needs to include the sustainability of the base feed stock and its source. However, the diesel cycle remains the key power cycle choice as there is no other energy convertor that can offer the same efficiency.


Refuelling FL Truck (2)In terms of alternatives on regional haul, there are commercial paybacks with liquefied natural gas (LNG) dual-fuel. Gas currently does not carry any fuel duty with it, so the figures stack up. Using LNG the industry should get a 15%-20% reduction in tail pipe CO2. However, to get significant reductions on greenhouse gas emissions, a truck running on biomethane would see a CO2 reduction of 70% well to wheel. This gas is available from bio-digesters and it is easier to send that to the grid as there is currently only one unit that can cryogenically process biomethane. The change to dual fuel involves Volvo, the dealer, the operator and driver along with the gas supplier for successful buy in.

Long and regional haul

For the city we have the Volvo FE 18 or 26-tonner with a spark ignition gas engine with compressed natural gas (CNG)) tanks, which fit conveniently in the wheelbase. Based on natural gas we have a 15%-20% reduction in CO2 but the aim is to use biomethane. When operated as a city truck, we can refill overnight if needed and we can support the range by additional gas tanks. The gas truck is pure gas so there is no requirement for a diesel particulate filter (DPF) or selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system, just a three-way exhaust catalyser.

Another key city benefit is that the gas engine on this truck is 2dB quieter [than a diesel engine]. These technologies are available, or in the advanced development stage. But they require significant work on the vehicle and fuelling resource. Their current pay back potential is linked into the effect of national taxation levels of gas as a fuel.

Alternatives to diesel

In terms of technologies we understand, for vehicle engineering and infrastructure there are three fuels that are in contention. The first is biodiesel, which Volvo is able to use providing it is of the type known as FAME (Fatty Acid Methyl Esters) and it is produced to European Standard EN 14214. That is very important, with up to 100% blend being used on the FL240 from 10 to 16-tonne, FE320 at 18 and 26-tonne and now the 460 13 litre for FM, FMX and FH – providing the correct engine has been specified at the point of sale.

The maintenance regime has to be controlled and we work with the local dealer on the service plan to ensure maximum performance. The result is that the filter and oil change intervals are halved. However, a downside is that the exhaust after treatment system has a reduced service life.

The key issue in service is the fuel blend. It has to achieve the standard and the quality of storage. Interestingly, harvesting biomass and converting it to hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) makes a much better fuel than that produced by the process of esterification. HVO is not true to its name as 60% comes from slaughter house waste. HVO fuel has a good cetane rating and it can replace conventional diesel. It does not have the same aftermarket issues that one gets with biodiesel.

However, the availability of HVO fuel is limited. But, due to its potential, there is significant investment currently being made in the HVO process. HVO is definitely a front runner in the Gartner Hype Cycle of technology development, where early promise is weighed against performance in reality over time. In my opinion, the only real contender is synthetic diesel.

Electrification and hybrids

Hybrids and electrification work well for bus operation, where stop start gives a regenerative boost to the system when braking and road speeds are low. It has also delivered some success in certain refuse collection operations. The systems work in parallel. For trucks however, the density of the energy produced from the battery alone, is not, at this stage of development, ideal for emission free or everyday driving mode. To achieve that, external support is needed. This might come from the road or via a pantograph. Volvo is working on such a system for regional distribution.

Volvo Bus is working on plug-in hybrid and pure electric buses for emission free city operations so maybe an electric truck based on the bus design and using the bus conductive network is a possible solution for consolidated inner city shipments in London.

Modality and vehicle size

A key carbon advantage of the truck compared to other modes is that the load can be shipped directly from A to B, without the need for transhipment to another source or carbon production; the bigger the load the better in terms of CO2/kg. However the idea of delivering with a 16.5m-long artic in a city poses other issues; that one truck with a 28-tonne payload would require 14 3.5tonne vans for onward delivery of the goods, which puts massive pressure on road space, noise, safety and emissions in the city.

So a key question is what size truck is ideal for the city? Consolidation of loads into the city is the way forward – rather than replace the traditional 7.5 tonner with a van, it could be replaced by a 10-16 tonne truck which has a similar dimensional foot print with the advantage of a 5 to 9 tonne payload, (compared to 2 tonne for a van). The design is low and convenient for ease of unloading, avoiding penalty charge notices (PCNs) and ensuring good traffic flow. The other alternative in terms of consolidation is the flexibility and load capacity of the urban artic, a low tractor unit with a single axle trailer at 24t GVW offering a 10 tonne payload.

Consolidation centres at the edge of town could mean the employment of large trucks to supply on a green highway or even a mode switch to rail.

For maximum carbon reduction, safety and air quality the whole distribution structure has to be reviewed including infrastructure and a flexible working day to keep the traffic flowing in the city.

  • For more on Volvo’s involvement with alternative fuel technology click here


BVRLA calls for ‘national framework’ for city devolution


The BVRLA has said that the government must provide “direction” to its Cities Devolution Bill to ensure that vehicles are not subject to different legislation in different cities.

In May, chancellor George Osborne set out plans for English cities to get more powers over areas such as transport as part of the Cities Devolution Bill.

As part of the move, a Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) will be established, with a remit similar to that of Transport for London (TfL).

BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney said: “We totally support, for example, a low emission zone and believe that our members will have a key role to play in delivering an efficient low emission zone. What we don’t want to have, and the government have been reluctant to step up to the mark on this, is a different low emission zone in Manchester, and a different one in Leeds, and a different one in Bristol.

“There is every possibility of that happening,” he warned.

“We do believe that government needs to support the local agenda, but it also needs to provide a direction and a national framework. It’s great to have a Northern Powerhouse, but it is important that there is a national framework, because we need to have vehicles than can run into Bristol and then into Birmingham – for example.”

Ultra-low emission zone needed by 2018 says Labour MP Diane Abbott

London Labour MP and mayoral candidate Diane Abbott has called for the introduction of an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) in the capital by 2018, two years ahead of plans already proposed by current London mayor Boris Johnson.

Abbott secured a Commons debate on London’s poor air quality yesterday (9 June), claiming City Hall has “abjectly failed in their duty to protect Londoners from such a severe public health risk”.

Dianne AbbottAccording to the UK Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (UKLPG), pollution contributes to the premature deaths of approximately 3,400 Londoners each year. It is urging the government to support automotive LPG as part of its commitment to improving air quality in urban areas.

The British government has already been ordered by the European Supreme Court to bring air quality up to minimum legal standards, or face millions of pounds in fines.

The UKLPG is hoping that local air quality concerns could spur an increase in automotive LPG take-up to power public transport and local delivery vehicles operating in urban areas. It is urging ministers to support increased take-up of automotive LPG, and to work with the body on the development of low-carbon road transport for both commercial vehicles and motorists.

This could become part of reforms due to be announced in next month’s Budget on 8 July to encourage public transport and local delivery vehicles operating in urban areas to switch from the most polluting diesel vehicles to low-emission models.

Rob Shuttleworth, chief executive of the UKLPG, said: “As a low-carbon energy, automotive LPG has huge air quality benefits. It is a versatile and flexible fuel with less environmental impact than the alternatives. We would welcome a dialogue with ministers to see how we can support their proposals for lower emissions.”

Driving through Central London in a Volvo distribution truck: first-hand report

With the current focus on truck safety in London, Volvo kindly laid on two distribution trucks for our technical editor to drive so that we could experience for ourselves just what it’s like to drive through the city centre on a typical weekday, and how much help the latest technology actually provides.

What we drove: FE-280 18-tonner and an FL-210 12-tonner, both fully laden and with automated transmissions

Time of day: 11am – 5pm

When: 4 June 2015

Route: From Hayes into central London, across to Ealing, back on the North Circular, down to Chiswick, and then M4 back to Hayes.

Both trucks were fitted with almost identical safety equipment. Naturally, all of the usual mirrors were fitted, backed up by a two-camera rear vision system providing views to the rear, and along the near side whenever the left indicator is deployed. This is accompanied by an audible message delivering the message “Attention, this vehicle is turning left”. A nearside proximity detector illuminated a set of miniature traffic lights on the left hand A-pillar when movement is detected, and the FE’s nearside door has a glazed lower panel. However, if you regularly carry a two-person crew, the window is hidden behind the passenger’s legs. The only major item missing from the safety kit available was the lane departure warning system, but the value of this in an urban environment is debatable.

The 75-mile driving exercise began and ended at Volvo’s west London dealership at Hayes, just across the M4 from Heathrow airport. After making the short link to the south, the route stuck to the A4 all the way to Trafalgar Square, before a detour down Whitehall, across Westminster Bridge, then via Elephant and Castle before recrossing the river on Tower Bridge.

‘Poor signage and no satnav’

Then followed a bit of confusion as poor signage and no satnav meant our target of the North Circular Road was reached by an unexpected route involving the A12. Back on track, we headed to another Volvo dealership near Ealing for quick refreshments and a vehicle change. Back on the North Circular down to Chiswick, then M4 to Hayes, completed the circular route.

Things went relatively smoothly through Chiswick and Hammersmith, with the traffic moving slowly but steadily. The only minor drama was taking the wrong exit from a junction thanks to a pet hate, lane markings only present on the road surface where they are hidden from view by other selfish road users.

Volvo truck reflected in Harrods windowThe sense of complacency rapidly disappeared as we travelled at considerably less than walking pace along Knightsbridge, giving plenty of opportunities for selfies of our reflection in Harrods’ windows (pictured).

It was also where we saw the first significant amount of potential conflict with two-wheeled road users, as any bit of spare road space was quickly claimed. At these speeds, with plenty of time to scan them, a full set of carefully located fixed mirrors are really as much help as any new technology. However, the default rear view of the camera was helpful in providing an early warning of cyclists about to come into view on one side or another. Even with the monitor mounted in a less than optimal position, any unexpected movement was picked by peripheral vision. Apart from a quick spurt through the Hyde Park underpass, progress all along Piccadilly and Haymarket was painfully slow.

The constant high levels of concentration were beginning to get extremely tiresome; frequently other traffic was literally within a couple of inches of our own bodywork.

Driving in Central LondonOne of the greatest challenges when driving in London is deciding if the approaching noise is an emergency siren or an automatic bus. After hearing lots of both, we eventually crossed Westminster Bridge where the traffic began to flow more freely. This medium rate of progress seemed the most dangerous of the trip, as cyclists, easily able to match a truck’s pace, were tempted to undertake, although many just took to the footpath at unabated speed. There were enough flower-strewn lampposts to provide a reminder of the issues.

Once this leg was underway, the left turning aids came into play. When the left indicator is used, the camera view changes to the side, and the audible warning begins. You soon learn to use this as a pre-emptive resource to gain the attention of not just cyclists, but also day-dreaming pedestrians on the edge of junctions. We felt the warning on the FE was set rather too loud, still audible from the driving seat at maximum speed on the motorway, but it certainly made our intentions known, to everyone within a hundred yards. How effective it will be when every truck has it, and it just merges into the general streetscape cacophony, remains to be seen.

Brief driving impressions of the Volvo FE

While the FE proved to be a very effective distribution overall, there were a couple of issues. The steering is a bit slow and low-geared, and although we’re great fans of the I-Shift transmission in general, this probably isn’t the most effective installation. The combination of relatively modest power, and the I-Shift’s preference for moving away in fourth, of 12, and then shifting to seventh, made acceleration lethargic to the point where pulling out into traffic gaps needed careful judgement.

The second leg of the journey, in the FL with the same complement of safety gear, didn’t add much to the safety angle but certainly suggested less is more. Obviously, there was only 75% of the weight to shift with 75% of the power, but the six-speed I-Sync gave much nimbler response and more predictable progress. The only minor criticism is that the engineers responsible for the firm front suspension have obviously never had the dubious pleasure of driving British roads.

Overall, the day provided a useful exercise in understanding the safety issues surrounding the operation of trucks in Central London. Beyond that, though, it reinforced our respect for those drivers who endure the experience every day, delivering the essentials of life to the capital’s inhabitants, while enduring more hostility than gratitude.

Boris pushes for a reduction of 14,000 deaths or serious injuries in London by 2020

A new target to halve the number of people killed or seriously injured on London’s roads by 2020 has been set by the Mayor or London today (9 June).

Meeting the new target would mean a reduction of more than 14,000 deaths or serious injuries over the next five years.

The commitment comes as Transport for London (TfL) published the full London road casualty figures for 2014.

According to the 2014 Road Casualties and Collisions report, the number of people killed or seriously injured in London was down 7% to 2,167 (2013: 2,324), which means London has met the Mayor’s previous target of a 40% reduction in casualties six years early.

The number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in 2014 was down 12% to 432 (2013: 489), while the number of children killed or seriously injured fell to the lowest level recorded, down 11% to 166 (2013: 187).

“These figures show quite clearly that road safety in the Capital continues to head in the right direction,” said Johnson. “However, with a growing population and more people on our roads, we’ll have to pull out all the stops to ensure that such positive trends continue. Today, we’re setting a new target to halve the number of people killed or seriously injured on London’s roads by 2020.”

Leon Daniels, MD of Surface Transport at TfL, said: “Every death and injury on our roads is one too many and we will be relentless in pursuing the Mayor’s new target. The wide ranging action that we and our partners are taking includes major safety improvements to roads, junctions and cycling infrastructure, action on dangerous lorries, tough enforcement and a programme of education and training to help people use the roads safely.”