Go-Ahead in talks with logistics sector for London buses to carry freight

London buses could be used to transport goods and parcels after the capital’s largest bus operator confirmed it was discussing the idea with logistics firms.

Go-Ahead, which has been running buses in London for more than 20 years and provides almost a quarter of all services on behalf of TfL, said its plan could tackle congestion in the face of falling passenger numbers.

A spokeswoman for the bus group said: “Go-Ahead is always looking at ways to maximise its assets and build new partnerships, including with logistics providers. Using our vehicles and depots to reduce congestion helps both our passengers and other road users.”

FTA head of policy for London, Natalie Chapman, said there was no single solution to improving efficiency in last-mile logistics: “We would always welcome innovative new ways to move goods around the capital as efficiently as possible,” she said.

“What we need to understand is if the business case stacks up and if there’s any commercial viability in it. It might be that it would work, but it might be a fairly niche area, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be tried out.”


LoCity Annual Conference points to mayor-led future

The LoCity Annual Conference took place at Freight in the City 2017, offering an opportunity for policy makers, alternative fuel trials and fleet operators to look back at the past 12 months, and ahead to the challenges LoCity faces.

Introducing the session Alex Williams, director of city planning at TfL, looked at the challenges a growing London faces over the next 25 years with a projected population growth of 8.7m to 10.5m: “The mayor’s transport strategy is very ambitious in terms of getting the cleanest and safest vehicles on our roads, and we all need to respond and accommodate that.

“The number of trips people make per day is falling and the number of car trips is falling, but the number of van trips is increasing. How do we accommodate that demand and make the road network as efficient as you can? With the exception of the Silvertown tunnel there is no extra capacity in the highway network.”

Williams said that 90% of all freight in London is carried on the road, with the value of the freight moved standing at £200bn annually. As a result TfL understands the value of road freight to the capital and its economy.

Oxford Street

In light of this he added that freight was at the heart of one of the flagship policies of mayor Sadiq Khan, to pedestrianise parts of Oxford Street (pictured above), where the biggest challenge will be to accommodate freight deliveries to stores.

Williams also discussed recent regulatory changes – noting the introduction of the T-Charge on 23 October and looking forward to the introduction of the ULEZ on 8 April 2019 – essentially 17 months early.

“A lot of people in the mayor’s consolation said that we were not moving quick enough,” he said of the move in the date of the introduction of the ULEZ. “The next ULEZ consultation will be on widening the ULEZ boundary for HGVs,” he said, adding that the zone could be bordered by the north and south circular, which he admitted would be challenging to deliver.

Up next at the annual conference was Denise Beedell, development manager, Greater London at the Federation of Small Business. She explained that LoCity was something the FSB wanted to get behind “very quickly”.

“We wanted to explore the affordability for our small and micro members. Yes, big fleets have a lot of knowledge, but smaller fleets needed simpler information to make the right decisions for their operation,” she said. “We also wanted to make sure that the planning and procurement activity worked properly, rather than use sticks to beat businesses with.”

She said that key concerns for FSB members over the past 12 months had been total cost of ownership for vehicles that met LoCity standards, while the emissions from auxiliary engines – such as refrigeration units – needed to be considered when it came to mitigating those emissions.

“We will continue to work with vehicle manufacturers as they are the ones who will deliver the vehicles for our members to buy in the showrooms,” she said of plans for 2018.


Next on the slate was Venn Chesterton, innovation lead, low emission vehicle, Innovate UK, who took a spin through several of the trials that the organisation had been helping to run over the past year. “What we already know is that gas vehicles don’t cost a lot more, and in some cases you will save money,” he said of the Air Liquide consortium trial, while noting that a UPS electric trial “had seen us look at how to charge vehicles. They have a large charging point on site with UK Power Networks managing that.”

Forthcoming trials including trailer ergonomics with Lawrence David, a gas trial with CNG Fuels – focused on refuelling options – and a KERS trial with Howdens Joinery.

But how are these trials measured? And how are they evaluated as successful, or not? “How can we prove to legislations, city authorities, operators and the general public that these things lead to improvement? One thing is around climate change and CO2 while the other is around air quality and NoX,” said Chesterton.

To that end, the equation of success is measured as: kms driven, the energy used to drive those kms, and emissions associated with that energy used. If those measures point to a reduction in emissions, then a vehicle is benchmarked against a Euro-6 diesel. This is done under several measures, including performance in areas such as urban environments or trunking routes.

The next trials will focus on refuse collection, he added, and he called on those involved in that part of the industry to participate.

Birmingham will get one of the first clean air zones

The conference finished with a panel discussion that included contributions from Carl Beet, Transport for West Midlands; Andrew Benfield, Energy Saving Trust and Martin Ellis, Joint Air Quality Unit – looking at lowering emissions in cities and towns across the UK.

Chair and business journalist Simon Jack questioned the panel on its view as to how important EU regulation was to LoCity – and what would happen as a result of Brexit. Williams admitted that EU regulation was overarching in everything they did, but that regional mayors now had such powers over their constituencies that policy would now be driven from the bottom up, rather than waiting for the EU to handle it.

“Looking at the emissions scandal that is a failing of the EU to handle those large businesses, while these metro mayors are up there and doing it,” he said.

Beet said that EU law had given the direction, but that was moving on, while Benfield said that certainty was required in this area in order for policy makers and businesses to plan ahead to make savings and reductions.

A final question was raised from one delegate on the chance of a new mayor, with polarising views on environmental sustainability, coming in to any city and changing the political and policy work done on reducing emissions.

Benfield said that the health benefits of improving air quality would “continue to be a vote winner” while the prosperity of the economy relied on “a healthy, independent, profitable and clean” transport sector for the UK.

“This topic is not going to go away because it is hitting too many buttons. It has achieved cross party support and is not going anywhere,” he said. Ellis concurred, citing cross-party experience in Somerset and Bristol.

Finally Ellis addressed the powers of metro mayors to introduce clean air zones, and said that it was absolutely necessary for freight operators to have a clear view of the requirements and costs associated with those zones. Benfield concurred that there was a need for a national framework and standard, with encouragement beyond compliance.

“If it’s not straightforward that gives people a way out,” he said.

All of the presentations from the LoCity annual conference are available online.

Registrations now open for third Freight in the City Expo in London

Registrations are now open for this year’s free-to-attend Freight in the City Expo on 7 November at Alexandra Palace, London.

Now in its third year, the expo provides a collaborative forum for urban logistics decision-makers from the public and private sector to debate the key challenges and latest innovation to promote quiet, safe and clean city deliveries.

This is complemented by an exhibition hall packed with the latest urban delivery vehicles, technology and services to help city fleet operators keep compliant with air quality, noise and safety requirements.

We are also excited to announce that this year’s event will host the annual LoCity conference, which will highlight work taking place within the TfL-supported programme to help freight operators make the switch to alternative fuels.

Up to 1,000 visitors are expected to head along to the north London event this autumn, keen to hear from our top line-up of speakers and network with industry peers from cities across the UK and overseas.

Details of the full seminar line-up will be posted online later this month, with topics including:

Freight in the City urban editor Hayley Pink said: “As city populations expand, then so too do the challenges of congested streets, poor air quality and noise pollution.

“Collaboration is the key ingredient to finding smarter ways of transporting goods into urban areas, and Freight in the City provides the ideal platform for local authorities and the logistics sector to start the dialogue needed to make a change.”

Make sure to secure your free place at this must-attend event and keep up-to-date with the latest urban logistics news by registering today!

Autonomous Cargopod delivers for Ocado

A trial of a fully autonomous electric-powered vehicle – dubbed the Cargopod – conducting last-mile deliveries for Ocado in Greenwich concludes on Monday (3 July).

The vehicle, which has a payload of 128kg and requires two employees to accompany it at all times, has delivered groceries to more than 100 customers so far. Its use, however, has been limited to the Royal Arsenal development in the London borough, which has no public highways.

It was developed in partnership with Oxford-based artificial intelligence firm Oxbotica, and is part of a trial led by Transport Research laboratory (TRL) and its Gateway project (standing for Greenwich Automated Transport Environment).

David Sharp, head of Ocado’s 10x department (Sharp explained its 10x department aims to make things “ten times better”), said the trial was designed to take autonomous commercial vehicle technology to the “edge of what is practical”.

He also explained that the technology behind the CargoPod – particularly its software platform Selenium – could be scaled up to larger commercial vehicles to improve the payload capacity.

Simon Tong, principal research scientist at TRL and technical lead for the Gateway project, added: “This trial with Ocado Technology provides an ideal platform to help us understand how and where these vehicles could best operate and whether people would accept, trust and like them as an automated delivery service in the city.

“We envisage that cities could benefit massively if deliveries could be made by quiet, zero emission, automated vehicles when congestion is minimal,” he said.

And here is a great video explaining how it works:


London’s Enviro Waste adds to Fuso Canter fleet

East London-based Enviro Waste has added three new trucks to its fleet of Fuso Canters, two years after it took delivery of its first 7.5-tonne model.

Enviro Waste took its first 7.5-tonne Canter two years ago, buying two more the following year.

In its newest hire agreement with Mercedes-Benz financial services, Enviro Waste added a fourth 7.5-tonner and two 3.5-tonne models to its fleet.

The new trucks are fitted with Freuhauf tipping box bodies, and the 7.5-tonne vehicle also has 500kg Dhollandia column lift.

Enviro Waste operations manager Mark Oates said it was the Fuso Canter’s dimensions and payload allowance that sealed the deal for the operator.

He said: “It’s a brilliant urban vehicle. We run an intensive operation up to six days per week, and make full use of the Canter’s carrying capacity.

“Its minimal footprint and cab-over-engine design mean the vehicle is also highly manoeuvrable and ideally suited to work in tight city streets.”

Trenchcon picks UK’s first Volvo low-entry rigid truck-mixer for urban distribution work

Concrete specialist Trenchcon has received the UK’s first Volvo FE low-entry cab (LEC) 6×2 rigid truck-mixer unit.

Based in north-west London, the 6m³ truck-mixer was chosen for its enhanced direct vision for drivers, as well as its easy maneuverability.

Trenchcon MD Ronan Byrne said: “With the Volvo FE LEC, we are paving the way for a new type of construction truck for use in the urban environment.”

He added the driver’s lowered seating position compared with a standard six-wheel mixer significantly improved road safety for vulnerable road users.

“The type of work we do means the FE LEC doesn’t need to go off-road,” said Byrne.

“We needed the rear-steer lift axle for maneuverability and the I-Shift automated gearbox as the best solution available to help the driver manage deliveries through the constant stop-start heavy traffic.”

“It’s the first truck of its kind for Volvo and we will see many more operators opting for this type of mixer in London.”

The new FE LEC will join Trenchcon’s 20-strong fleet of 4m³, 6m³ and 8m³ mixers.

To ensure the FE LEC offered the top level of direct vision and maneuverability, Trenchcon worked in partnership with Volvo to help develop its specification.

It features a 320hp engine, coupled to a direct top I-Shift automated gearbox and a single reduction rear axle.

“This appears to be a far more efficient solution than other vehicles designed for the city environment based on refuse specs, which call for automatic transmission coupled to a hub-reduction axle, especially in and around the orbital roads,” said Volvo Trucks head of product management John Comer.

“In this respect the Volvo FE LEC will help with both London direct vision, carbon and increasingly more important, air quality demands, and it is better for the bottom line,” he added.

The truck also features air suspension on all three axles, a two-step entry steel safety cab, a lowered window in the nearside door to improve driver visibility alongside the cab, and a four-way Brigade safety camera system,

It is equipped with a Cifa truck mixer body fitted by Wilcox.

Renault designs low-entry, high-vision cab for Veolia’s urban multi-stop work

Renault has developed a low-entry, high-vision Range D day cab that it said “challenges the conventional approach” to tackling driver direct vision.

Working with waste management firm Veolia, Renault has designed the Range D Low to improve road safety for cyclists and pedestrians and provide easy cab access for crew members making 100-plus collections a day.

It has been developed as part of a £5m, two-year investment by Veolia to support the objectives of Clocs and work towards London’s proposed Direct Vision Standard.

The low-entry cab has a ground step height of 375mm, some 75mm lower than traditional crew cab models in this sector, according to Renault. It is accessed via two steps that sit slightly inside the cab.

This lower height is achieved by fitting 315/60 tyres and air suspension front and rear, while an additional ‘kneel’ function drops the front of the vehicle a further 50mm.

The cab features a larger window area, nearside vision panel and lowered driver position to improve direct vision of vulnerable road users around the truck.

It is is available to order directly from the factory with no additional conversion needed.

Veolia UK and Ireland senior executive VP Estelle Brachlianoff said the Range D Low would help protect other road users and assist its crew members: “This will help us to operate more productively for our many customers, and extend the safety aspects of our operations.”

Renault Trucks product manager Mike Stringer said the new cab “challenges the conventional industry solution with a traditional day cab that delivers class-leading low entry access and egress”.

He added: “Despite its lower bumper, the vehicle’s shorter front overhang compared with alternative low-entry crew cabs on the market offers an improved approach angle for easier manoeuvrability on city streets, helps with ground clearance issues to reduce vehicle damage, and crucially, enhances the field of vision.”

Based on a Range D Wide (2.3m) cab, the low-entry model is available as a 4×2 18-tonne rigid or 26-tonne 6×2 rigid tag with fixed or steered rear axle.

It uses Renault’s DTI 8-litre engine, with a choice of power ratings (250hp, 280hp or 320hp) and can be specified with a manual, Allison (automatic) or 12-speed Optidriver automated gearbox and a variety of body options.

Cycle lanes are short term pain for longer gain, says minister

Congestion caused by cycle lanes is a short-term pain for the long-term gain of reducing traffic levels in London, DfT minister Andrew Jones told the Transport Committee hearing on urban congestion this week.

Asked by committee member Rob Flello MP why the DfT continued to fund bus and cycle lane schemes in London when research suggested the schemes had contributed to congestion, the minister said: “I am aware that bus and cycle lanes have caused a degree of controversy – I suggest TfL is thinking of how it can encourage a modal shift and is thinking a long way ahead by trying to provide the right infrastructure.”

He added: “Cycle lanes encourage a modal shift to public transport, or a more active mode of travel, so TfL is thinking long term and we should be encouraging local decision making. Our role is to provide financial support, ideas and best practice.”

Asked by Flello if the DfT would continue to support local decision making if TfL continued to ignore the evidence that cycle and bus schemes were creating more congestion, Jones said: “This is a local decision and the people of London can chose their representatives and express that choice via the ballot box.”

Jones said the government had the “ultimate nuclear option” of suspending a local authority department if it was not performing but added: “TfL is a world leader in making maximum use of a finite, historical urban realm for transport and it is good at it, so it is not my job to say ‘no’.

“TfL is responsible to the mayor and it is up to the people who elect the mayor to have the final say.”

Iain Stewart MP asked what measures are being taken to measure the cost benefit of some cycle schemes, pointing to a road in his area of London that he claimed had seen congestion rise since the introduction of a cycle lane, resulting in “HGV’s sitting stationary and emitting NOx”.

Jones said local authorities are responsible for monitoring these schemes. “We don’t plan these schemes, these are local schemes – it comes down to local authorities planning and implementing to meet demand, not just now but in the future to cater for what will be significant cycling growth.”

DfT deputy director of traffic and technology Anthony Ferguson added: “If an HGV is sitting in static traffic it is probably an issue about freight strategy rather than whether cyclists are taking too much road space.”

He added that for this reason Tfl is better placed to deal with local issues than the DfT.

House of Commons to explore barriers to electric vehicle take-up

Development and take-up of electric vehicles are to be investigated by the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee in an inquiry launched today.

The committee will examine barriers to the market’s development and look at the support needed to progress; consider how the government can optimise electric vehicles as part of a strong industrial strategy; and look at charging infrastructure, purchase costs and incentives to increase sales.

Government de-carbonisation aims for road transport and its ability to respond to potentially disruptive shifts in the market, such as the emergence of driverless cars, will also be scrutinised.

The inquiry will cover all electric road vehicles, including buses, HGVs, cars, motorcycles and vans.

Committee chair Iain Wright MP, said: “As a committee we want to investigate concerns that electric vehicle sales and roll-out are not as advanced as they should be.”

The committee is inviting submissions on written evidence on the following issues by Thursday 13 April 2017 via the inquiry webpage:

  • Are the key barriers to development of the UK’s electric vehicle market?
  • Does the government’s industrial strategy sufficiently address the challenges and opportunities for electric vehicles?
  • What support for purchase costs should the government provide after 2018, in response to the changing costs of electric vehicles?
  • How best can the government ensure there is consistent provision of charging infrastructure across the country?
  • Is the government’s road transport de-carbonisation strategy sufficiently flexible to adapt to potentially disruptive market trends such as driverless cars? How might these impact requirements for, and use of, charging infrastructure?

Operators encouraged to attend North East Freight Partnership forum

DVSA earned recognition, Brexit implications and recruitment will all be discussed at next month’s North East Freight Partnership forum on 8 March at Gateshead Civic Centre.

Operators are encouraged to come along and take part in the two-hour session, which will bring together an agenda of key industry speakers addressing issues affecting logistics in the North East.

The North East Freight Partnership was first established in 2005 (as the Tyne and Wear Freight Partnership).

It is a collaboration between freight operators, local authorities, academics, freight user groups, industry associations and anyone with an interest in freight.

Its aim is to promote safe, efficient and sustainable freight movement in the region, with a range of activities including quarterly forum meetings undertaken each year.

The meeting will take place at the Whickham Room, Civic Suite, 1st Floor, Gateshead Civic Centre on 8 March, with registration and refreshments from 10am. Register today at North East Freight Partnership to take part.