Saturday, 30 July 2016

New Truck Stop Report Backed by Road Haulage and Freight Transport Associations

Dearth of Facilities is Impinging on Lorry Drivers Hours and Road Safety 

UK – A new report from Transport Focus, an organisation which has evolved from the Central Transport Consultative Committee (CTCC) set up in response to the 1947 Transport Act, focuses on the plight of lorry drivers who are being let down by the paucity of suitable truck stops around the roads of Britain, and it has brought a rapid response from the country’s road haulage community. Whilst the report comments that car drivers are generally well served it notes the dissatisfaction amongst freight drivers who are often struggling to find space to park at the locations and times they need to stop, and facing serious sanctions if this means not complying with driving hours regulations. 
Transport Focus points out that better roadside facilities, with more spaces for HGV vehicles, will make roads safer for all users. It will help to ensure people don’t drive tired, don’t stop unnecessarily on the hard shoulder, something many foreign drivers assume is permissible, and don’t run out of fuel, all factors which contribute to accidents causing injury or worse. Guy Dangerfield, Transport Focus’s road user director, said: 
“This insight into road users’ views should help everyone focus on providing facilities that fully meet the needs of all road users. The struggle many lorry drivers face finding somewhere they feel safe and comfortable to stop is a key concern. Highways England, the freight industry, and national and local government should work more closely together to solve this.” 
The report finds that whilst motorways generally have adequate facilities for all drivers, although there was some criticism of the cost of refreshments, the situation on ‘A’ roads is very different with the primary needs of toilet facilities, hot drinks, fuel and food often simply not available to the crews of larger vehicles. 
Two of the country’s logistics industry bodies reacted swiftly to the report with both the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and the Road Haulage Association (RHA) backing its findings and calling for action to remedy a situation which many in the sector have complained in vain about for some time. Malcolm Bingham, Head of Road Network Management Policy at the FTA commented: 
"The FTA fully supports the findings of the Transport Focus report regarding Lorry Parking which clearly identifies the need for better driver facilities on our strategic road network. The research quotes lorry drivers who said that all too often there aren’t truck stops located where they need them, and even where they do exist availability of spaces can be a problem. We have been saying this for some time and recognise the driver preference for lorry parking facilities which provide basic needs together with security on site, so that they can feel comfortable and safe.” 
This situation is not one confined to Britain, in the US it took the death of Jason Rivenburg to start adebate which continues and the RHA is asking for a clear ministerial acknowledgement that the provision of adequate parking on its network is a core responsibility, both for the Department for Transport and Highways England, and saying these provisions should be on a par with the quality of the road surface. RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: 
“The UK haulage industry is the lifeblood of the UK economy and it’s the responsibility of HGV drivers to keep it moving. We have been working closely with Transport Focus from the start to ensure that the views of hauliers and their drivers were fully considered in the research and we welcome the report’s acknowledgement that the importance of driver facilities must be addressed and acted upon. 
“The roads are this industry's main place of work. HGV drivers are not commuting, or on leisure trips, they are providing an essential service. We look to Highways England to provide a strategic road network that is safe, efficient and provides drivers with appropriate facilities. Drivers have a common-sense obligation to take breaks and, in the case of lorry drivers, there is a regulatory requirement to do so. 
“We are already taking the message of responsibility the Department for Transport and Highways England. We have already flagged these issues with new secretary of state for transport Chris Grayling and roads minister John Hayes. We fully support John Hayes' vision for improving the design of roads and facilities, but that must include facilities for lorry drivers. Highways England needs to get more involved in this issue with motorway service area providers, local authorities and must assist truck stop developers to ensure provision of adequate facilities.”

Freight Representatives and RoRo Cross Channel Ferry Groups Consider Dover Delays  

Alternative to Operation Stack and Pressure on French Government Discussed

Shipping News FeatureUK – FRANCE – News of the latest murder in Rouen, the ninth such atrocity in the past few days, will undoubtedly only heighten the security which so affected the cross Channel traffic last weekend. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has commented on the delays caused by a shortage of French security staff, just at the time when checks on vehicles and passengers were at their most stringent. Delays of up to 14 hours have induced the FTA to call for the newly agreed truck park at Stanford Kent to be opened immediately for tourist traffic bound for Dover. FTA Head of Policy South East England, Natalie Chapman said: ”The FTA believes that now is a good time to look at all possible scenarios and offers an opportunity to consider the feasibility of the site being made available for tourist traffic if we had a similar situation in the future. The site at Stanford will accommodate up to 3,600 lorries which is stages 1 and 2 of Operation Stack, but it could hold many more cars. However, we would need to ensure that tourist and freight traffic are separated. The peak days for tourist and freight traffic are different, with tourists heading to the continent across weekends and lorries leaving the UK mid-week.
”We do need to solve the root causes of congestion and delays at the Port. Given the recent terrorist attack in Nice, FTA fully understands the need for heightened security and additional checks, but it is unforgiveable that the French border force was so under-resourced. Dover is vital to the UK economy with up to £120 billion worth of trade going through the Port every year. There must be better processes put in place at the Port with extra personnel drafted in at peak times, otherwise there is a risk that Operation Stack may be introduced and we cannot have a repeat performance of last year.”
Highways England is due to be consulting on the details for the design and operation of the new site adjacent to the M20 to alleviate Operation Stack for lorry drivers in the coming weeks. The main objectives of the proposed lorry area has to be to keep the M20 running and Kent open for business. The Stanford site would provide basic welfare facilities for professional drivers, but if this can be translated to tourist traffic in a workable way, the FTA says it would help meet those objectives too.
P&O Ferries operates 20 vessels, the bulk of which are on cross Channel services, carrying 10 million passengers in 1.6 million private cars and 2 million freight units. Commenting on the situation last weekend Helen Deeble, Chief Executive, said:
”The scenes which we saw at the weekend at the port of Dover, with holidaymakers delayed for completely unacceptable lengths of time, must never be allowed to happen again. Increased security checks at the border are completely understandable but the French authorities must provide adequate numbers of staff to ensure that these checks can be processed quickly and efficiently. The failure to do so at the weekend was the primary cause of the delays.
"We at P&O Ferries did everything we could to keep passengers moving on the English Channel, providing extra sailings and staff on duty. We would nevertheless like to apologise to the passengers whose holidays were affected and assure them that we will be talking to the British and French authorities this week to ensure that there is no repetition of this disruption. The port at Dover is a vital link connecting our island to mainland Europe and the governments on both sides of the Channel must act now to protect the millions of people who rely on it."
Photo: Freight drivers and private motorists alike sat in huge queues whilst Police flew in water by helicopter in temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius.

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