Higher Load Limit To Trim Haulage Costs

THE governments decision to raise the gross weight of trucks should ease pressure on haulage rates, says the NFU.

The move, included in the recently published 10-year transport plan, will allow general haulage lorries to operate at 44t from next February.

That is 3t more than the present limit, so trucks will carry up to 29t of produce. “That can only be good for bulk transport,” says the NFUs Mark Bratt. “It should help reduce costs per tonne.”

But not all farmers will benefit immediately. Many hauliers invested in five-axle combinations, ideal for the 40t limit introduced little more than 18 months ago.

The new limit requires six axles. Some trailers are also too small to carry the extra tonnage, he adds.

David Christmas, of Ashford, Kent, whose company moves about 350,000t of grain a year, fitted most of his fleet with five axles. He believes the higher limit will be of most benefit to long-distance hauliers.

Larger 44-tonners may be barred from passing through many towns and using smaller roads, he fears.

It will suit those driving up the motorway from Dover docks. But its a bit different creeping around 6ft wide lanes with an 8ft wide lorry.

Bigger trucks also cost more to tax, use more fuel and suffer from increased wear and tear, he adds. It is impossible to say what the advantage might be, if any, without running a unit for a year.

Farmers should check what size of lorry will collect their grain before selling it, advises the NFUs Jonathan Pettit. Most contracts are still based on 25t loads, so filling 41t or 44t vehicles could breach the 5% tolerance in the UKASTA contract.

Farmers should recalculate the tonnage offered to the nearest full load to avoid paying capped (part-load) charges or having to take the spot price on the day for any extra which is collected, he says.

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