TNT Express upgrades UK road fleet, tests longer trailers

TNT Express is continuing its extensive fleet replacement programme in the UK this year, and is also set to trial new longer trailers that will offer more capacity if given the go-ahead by the government.

The express delivery company is now in the process of replacing 107 of its 10-year-old linehaul tractor units, and has replaced 22 so far.

The replacement comes as part of an plan to improve fleet capacity and meet new environmental standards that come into force this year.

The company has already deployed 100 “Cheetah” trailers, which have curved roofs designed to cut fuel consumption with better aerodynamics. The trailers will provide additional capacity for peak periods across the TNT network.

The company said last week it has also started to deliver 190 new five-tonne vehicles that are to replace 7.5-tonne trucks to add operational flexibility to the network while also cutting carbon emissions.

Simon Harper, TNT’s director of operations, said: “This equipment will be deployed across the network to equalise annual mileage and to meet the revised London Emission Zone regulations being introduced on 3rd January 2012.”

TNT said it has also signed up to trial longer trailers, as part of a 10-year government-led trial of longer commercial vehicles among different company fleets.

The trial has come following “significant debate” in the UK transport industry regarding longer issues, and the government’s belief that the extra capacity they would allow could help to reduce overall transport emissions in the UK. Ministers have proposed extending maximum trailer lengths to 18.75 metres, but have ruled out any additional extension.

The trailers to be tested by TNT will be two metres longer, which the company said could offer 15% more capacity.

Harper said the trailers offered “exceptional” loading capacity that would help keep keep freight costs down in an age of rising fuel prices.

However, the TNT director of operations said: “This equipment will still need to conform to the existing turning circles and therefore most likely require three axles with at least the rear turning being a steering axle to continue to comply with turning requirements.”

TNT Express is also testing out double-decker trailers, which would potentially add 42% more capacity compared to the standard 13.6 metre-long trailer.

“Obviously, our depot and hubs infrastructure is under review to ascertain the impact of these changes in trailer design,” said Harper. “It is envisaged that these trailers will initially be used on certain tours, given TNT’s historical ‘one size fits all’ approach to trailer design which has been the bedrock of trailer utilisation in recent years

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