Business leaders, operators, trade associations and local authorities have focused on how the freight and logistics industry continues to support London as it changes and grows at a conference.
At Changing Times – Delivering London’s Future, a range of partners tackled how the industry can provide safer, cleaner and more efficient deliveries as London experiences a huge boom in construction and the biggest investment in road modernisation in a generation.
Transport for London (TfL) is working in partnership with the freight industry and local authorities to change how deliveries are made, focusing particularly on retiming deliveries to outside the peak hours of 7am to 1pm.
Doing so means that vital deliveries can be made with fewer wasted driver hours and fuel, reducing costs, lowering emissions and improving customer service.
While not all businesses are able to retime, other options, such as rerouting or consolidating deliveries, can provide similar benefits.
Consolidating deliveries into single trips can also save businesses money and time.
Removing large delivery vehicles from London’s high streets during shopping hours also helps the retail sector by making shopping areas more pleasant places to be.
TfL and the London boroughs are delivering major improvements to London’s roads. TfL's £4bn Road Modernisation Plan is creating a greener, safer and more attractive network for all users, including new segregated Cycle Superhighways meaning dramatically changed road layouts.
As new areas of London are developed, such as Battersea Power Station and Old Oak Common, there will be further significant change.
The continuing success of London means its population is set to grow from 8.6 million people today to more than 10 million by 2030.
This demands careful planning for the safe and efficient movement of increasing volumes of goods around the Capital.
Sir Peter Hendy CBE, London's Transport Commissioner, said: “From the shops on our high streets to the offices in the City, we all rely on freight and logistics to keep London thriving.
"The unprecedented growth and changing nature of London is placing increasing pressure on our road network.
"Never has the need to adapt been more pressing. We must build on all the work we did together during the London 2012 Games to make further progress on retiming outside the busiest times, rerouting and consolidating deliveries.
"This will mean less congestion, improved road safety and reduced costs for the industry and businesses.”
Tim Slater, managing director of Transport UK & Ireland at DHL, said: “As the world's leading logistics provider, it is important that we remain at the forefront of the industry.
“By sharing best practice and innovative technologies, such as our new gas powered concept vehicle, retiming of deliveries to out of the peak can become a reality; ensuring reliability, easing congestion and improving road safety.”
Martin Ward, head of distribution at Reynolds, said: “At Reynolds, we have been delivering to customers outside of normal business hours for many years now, often late at night or during the early hours of the morning.
"Not only is it convenient for our customers, but it means that the produce is delivered as fresh as possible - often within just a few hours of us receiving it at our national distribution centre in Hertfordshire.
"There are logistical benefits for Reynolds too, which ultimately means the prices we charge our customers can be more competitive.
"Because roads are far less congested, especially in Central London, larger vehicles can be deployed and more drops achieved on each route.
"What’s more, often we can utilise the same vehicle twice in a day, which makes great financial sense.”
Existing work to provide detailed advice to operators, businesses, business groups, industry bodies, boroughs and others is being stepped up.
TfL is publishing postcode data of planned disruption for route-planning systems and communicating with 11,000 operators in the weekly Freight Bulletin. TfL is also providing tools such as a matchmaking service which allows operators and business to gain the support of all stakeholders at any location for retimed deliveries.
TfL is drawing up a long-term strategic approach to managing freight in London as a response to the Mayor’s Roads Task Force by engaging with the servicing and delivery industry, businesses and London’s boroughs.