The RHA has recognised the huge improvements made in haulage work efficiency. There is though, a warning shot contained within some of the dialogue.
Most people involved in haulage work will take some pride in the RHA report, in response to ‘good news’ figures from the Department for Transport, which clearly indicates that the industry is getting more efficient.
The figures are certainly impressive.
They’re a little detailed and the particulars needn’t concern us here, but the headlines are:
• In 2015, the mileage covered on the UK’s roads increased by 9% (to an eye-watering 18.4 billion kilometres – that’s further than the distance from Earth to Pluto).
• By contrast, the tonnage carried per kilometre increased by 12%, meaning, of course, that lorries and trucks are becoming far more efficient. That’s attributable to larger volumes, longer trailers and so on.
Combine that latter figure with increased engine efficiency and reduced emissions and things are a lot greener than they were even just a few years back.
Praise and Recognition – But…
Everyone engaging in haulage work can take some real pride in these facts and they prove, once again, just how fundamentally important to the UK’s economy and social well-being trucks are.
Certainly the RHA’s report re-emphasises that, but it also contains a tiny sting in the tail too. The trouble with doing the laps of honour as a result of these figures is that they don’t, in themselves, say much about government investment in our road infrastructures.
Here’s the reality – in the UK, haulage work is regularly severely impacted by severe and virtually nation-wide traffic jams.
In part, that’s due to reasons of organic growth. As the economy has improved over the past year or two, the need for road haulage has done likewise. That means more trucks on the road, even with increasing carrying capacities. Add to that ever more private cars due to the rising population, and keeping the traffic moving is always going to be a problem.
However, we can’t just overlook the fact that, as a nation, we just haven’t invested in our road infrastructure to keep pace with this growth in traffic. Laudable as some of the major schemes are, in some cases they’re too little, too late.
Anyone in haulage work who visits the continent is frequently awed by the quality of the major roads in many of the countries across the channel. While it’s perfectly true that many of them benefit from a lower population density and far more land for building than we do, even so, their investment versus ours is a lesson to be learned.
That’s why the RHA’s report has stressed again – almost by way of an addendum to the ‘good news’ – that much more needs to be done in this area by the government.
Is a Solution Possible?
Some would argue that this is ‘whistling into the wind’. They’ll say with some justification that the real problem is that the UK just doesn’t have any more land to build new roads on. They’ll also point out that there’s very little that can be done about our population levels or their distribution.
No doubt these are very valid concerns, but the alternative surely cannot be to ‘do nothing’. We must get our supply chains moving around the UK.
if we are to feed and clothe people it is going to involve road transport. If we are to sell our goods overseas and move them, to increase our national wealth, that also involves a massive use of the roads.
Whatever the answer is, for those in haulage work, it can’t be just “it’ll sort itself out”.
Article Tags: Haulage Work