Ultra Low Emission Zone could see hauliers turn their backs on London

The Mayor of London’s proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) could see freight firms turn their backs on the capital rather than face the cost of upgrading to compliant Euro-6 vehicles within a two year deadline.

The warning comes from Pallet-Track member ELB Partners, which services central London.

Peter Eason, MD of the Wimbledon-based firm, also predicted a bottleneck of orders for Euro-6 vehicles as hauliers race to meet the April 2019 ULEZ deadline.

He predicted some firms would be forced into debt and others would have to raise their costs to fund the upgrade of their fleets.

Eason argues the deadline will put pressure on manufacturers to have thousands of Euro-6 compliant trucks ready by April 2019, if London’s logistics companies are to avoid the ULEZ £100 per day, per vehicle charge.

While Eason is supportive of measures to cut emissions in London he believes it is unfair to make freight firms among the first to comply with ULEZ, when black cabs will be exempt.

Peter Eason, MD, ELB Partners

He is also concerned at the demands on his firm to comply. “We are being asked to get rid of vehicles that are perfectly clean because they are regularly serviced and tested for emissions.

“We will have to sell these but moreover order now to get the right number of Euro-6 engines in time, otherwise there will be a major blockage in the system as everyone tries to get hold of new vehicles by April 2019.

“I will have to sell eight perfectly good vehicles and I have already put in an order for four new Euro-6 tractor units. The 12-tonne vehicles come in at around £60,000 each so many businesses like ours will have no choice other than pass on the additional costs to customers or build up a lot of unnecessary debt.

“Either way, it will mean the cost of business and goods will have to further increase.”

Pallet-Track network MD Nigel Parkes, said: “It can be argued that penalising a sector that regularly services its vehicles and indeed, have already high-quality clean engines, as no vehicles tend to be older than a few years old, is disproportionate.

“The ULEZ is a real concern for businesses operating in the capital as existing prices for goods will not be sustainable in the long-term. This is without the increasing volatility of fuel prices in what is already an extremely low-margin business,” he warned.

An interim T-Charge measure will be introduced this October by London’s mayor Sadiq Khan.

  • avlowe

    I wonder how many road hauliers have widened their perspectives beyond seeing rubber on the road as the only option. Over almost 40 years of my 50 working in transport, I’ve had connections with road hauliers who have seen the clear benefits of having operations which integrate – mainly with rail – to deliver better use of their vehicles and drivers.

    My earliest experience as the plant engineer for British Rail in Inverness was keeping the Liebherr container crane working for the whisky traffic – tanks and CLV containers running from Elgin, where the local haulier reaped the benefits of keeping all his drivers on local rules and every vehicle ‘close to home’ should any issues arise. Roll forward and Malcolms – with whom I was dealing as engineer for Sustrans – constructing cycleroutes (plant and tipper hires) and nailing a deal to connect their 2 major logistics sites with a private internal road and bridge under the cycle route, who with Russell (who I saw delivering the initial rail container traffic to Inverness) brought road haulage thinking and resource management to the rail deals on offer. All parties gained from the shared experience

    The logistics deal on retail distribution and massive reduction in ton-miles of traffic on the A9 between the core depots in Central Scotland and the dispersal points typically 150 miles to the North, was neatly apparent in 2015, as the TV news reported the A9 blocked for 2 days, and a Malcolm’s/Tesco train sailed past in the background on the railway.

    I’m working now with passion, and wherever possible payment(!) to deliver the wider portfolio for freight movement, often with examples of missed opportunities to slash costs, massively cut ton miles (and especially empty truck ton-miles) with the associated ‘footprint’ of – road damage ; dust and particulates ; emissions ; noise ; and increased road risk, which could have been realised if the transport plan had been effectively realised.

    In one case a 2 month operation, moving around 3000T/day on a 100Km trip from Central London to the Essex tipping site, requires at least 50 trucks, which would line the road outside in the morning, and then be stuck in congestion all the way to the A13 through the City – this could have been replaced or reduced by a 4-6 Km round trip to the Regents Canal or a nearby rail siding, with potential to work in with the small number of existing services already using it to move the material. Smart use of this option could have increased the payload per truck by 2-3 Tons, and had incoming materials (generally non-‘perishable’ for delivery timings, and bulk (truck) loads) carried in by rail, canal, or other road transport to the transfer point, using the same containers that were turned round on site to export the waste material. An added benefit ere being the removal of unloading delays (and risks) as a small fork lift/loader shuttles around the truck moving individual pallet-loads to the storage area or the material is tipped to the stockpile (in both cases with potential for wastage and contamination)

    Potential for consolidated trainload logistics from the Midlands “Golden Triangle” to some sites still available, with rail, canal, and good road connections to the M1, A1 and M11, with the prospect to develop current small and ‘proving the concept’ operations that offer the prospect of freight haul from the Midlands to London in 1.5 hours, (with door to door high value perishable commodities consistently achieving impressive times, and more well in line for some or the train operators and investors to unlock the potential – seafood being a key indicator on this) and transfer to Low Emission vehicles of the right size, running with a full payload from sites barely 1km from that A406 Inner Ring Road ‘cordon line’

    Innovators, like Geodis, and UPS are already showing audiences at Freight in the City seminars, how they are doing things differently, and making it work better, faster and cheaper.

    On Wednesday, with a small group, primarily concerned with canal & river opportunities, we went to the consultation on a major site in Camden and reviewed 2 other canal sites at risk of being lost for decades by poorly conceived (and short term profit driven?) developments. We know that the canal can deliver small but impressive freight movements – one site in Camden was moving 500T/day of construction waste (about 1 barge per hour) and no one seemed to notice, much as the 3000T that passed me heading East as I travelled along the Embankment to Westminster, with perhaps 6 ‘crew’ overall compared to the 150 8-wheelers plus drivers, who might otherwise been trying to cross central London.

    The canal has the options to carry ISO containers, with the limit possibly stretching to 60 feet on the appropriate barges (lock limit – 72 feet overall). The river has movements of up to 2000T as far as Battersea, and large barges (500-1000T used to operate up as far as Brentford Docks). One neat detail with the Canal is that it is lock-free from Camden, West to the M25 – the current prudent limit for barges is 60T, as the lack of regular ‘heavy boat’ traffic and uncertain value for vessel maximum draught precludes working to the maximum theoretical displacement (c.130-140T – ie 80-100T payloads).

    A modern compact straddle carrier (relatively low cost – potential to hire) with finger wharf, or ‘level crossing’ panels/basic apron, has lower demands on pavement than a container handling fork lift.