How longer lorries are helping Greggs deliver more sausage rolls

Greggs has been using longer lorries since 2013 and said it had increased capacity by 15%. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees
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Longer lorries will be allowed on British roads, with the government saying it will cut emissions and make businesses more efficient.

Longer semi-trailers (LST) can be up to 2.05 metres longer – up to 18.55m - and will mean they can carry more goods in fewer trips.

However, there are fears about the risks for pedestrians and cyclists, and the potential for damage to roadside infrastructure.

The vehicles have a larger tail swing – meaning their rear end covers a greater area when turning – and extended blind spots.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the new lorries will be able to move the same volume of goods as current trailers in 8% fewer journeys, meaning they will “make the world of difference” for businesses such as bakery chain Greggs.

The company has been using longer lorries from its national distribution centre in Newcastle since 2013 as part of a trial, increasing its capacity by 15% and allowing it to deliver thousands more sausage rolls.

Greggs supply chain director Gavin Kirk said: “We welcome the introduction of longer semi-trailers (LSTs) into general use.

“Since 2013, Greggs has been operating LSTs from our national distribution centre in Newcastle.

“We were early adopters of the trial as we saw a significant efficiency benefits from the additional 15% capacity that they afforded us.”

He added: “We have converted 20% of our trailer fleet to LSTs, which was the maximum allowable under the trial, and these complement our fleet of double-deck trailers. Our drivers undertook additional training to use these trailers and we have monitored accidents, finding that they are as safe as our standard fleet.

“Due to the increased capacity, we have reduced our annual km travelled by 540,000, and saved 410 tonnes of carbon per year.”

The DfT said the 11-year trial had demonstrated the longer lorries are safe for use.

The study showed they were involved in “around 61% fewer personal injury collisions than conventional lorries”, the department said.

A Government-commissioned report published in July 2021 revealed that 58 people were injured in incidents involving longer lorries between 2012 and 2020.

Lorries queuing for Port of Dover in Kent, as longer lorries are to be allowed on Britain's roads. Credit: PA

Roads minister Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham, said: “These new vehicles will provide an almost £1.4 billion boost to the haulage industry, reduce congestion, lower emissions and enhance the safety of UK roads.”

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The safety record shown during the extensive trials is encouraging but one can imagine problems if these lorries leave the strategic roads and end up off the beaten track.

“Particular attention will need to be paid to diversion routes when motorways and major A roads are closed for repair, as they often are.”

However, Keir Gallagher, campaigns manager at Cycling UK, said the move was “alarming”.

“At a time when funding for infrastructure to keep people cycling and walking safer has been cut, it’s alarming that longer and more hazardous lorries could now be allowed to share the road with people cycling and walking,” he said.

“Before opening the floodgates to longer lorries rolling into our busy town centres and narrow rural lanes, further testing in real life scenarios should have been done to assess and address the risks.”