New freight action plan for London launched

A plan to work with boroughs, businesses and the freight and servicing industry aims to transform how deliveries are made in London.

A key part of the Freight and Servicing Action plan, which was unveiled today (Thursday, March 7) by the Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL), includes offering more click and collect points at tube stations.

TfL is launching a tender to bid for space in their stations and open more parcel lockers across the transport network.

As previously reported by Commercial Fleet, it will also make land available for micro-distribution centres in key locations to support sustainable last mile deliveries in neighbourhoods across the capital, including by bike.

Furthermore, it will work with businesses to encourage them to offer ‘green’ delivery slots, which enable shoppers to choose a delivery window when drivers are already in their area.

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “Freight is essential for London’s economy but for our future health and prosperity we need to be smarter about how we manage the millions of van and lorry journeys each week.

“By creating a pan-London network of micro-distribution centres and rolling out innovative click and collect points at more tube stations, we will enable more commuters to collect packages near their home – helping reduce congestion across our city.”

Half of the value of household expenditure, around £79 billion per year, relies on road freight. However, the movements of goods vehicles in the capital have increased by around 20% since 2010, contributing to poor air quality, congestion and road danger.

Lorries and vans currently account for around one fifth of road traffic in London and about one third in central London during the morning peak, when more people use public transport, walk and cycle.

TfL research shows that heavy goods vehicles are involved in 63% of fatal collisions with cyclists, and 25% of fatal collisions with pedestrians, despite only making up 4% of the overall miles driven in the capital.

Lorries and vans also account for around a third of all nitrogen oxide emissions in the capital, having a damaging impact on the health of Londoners.

Khan continued: “Together with the introduction of our world-leading Direct Vision Standard and supporting businesses to switch to electric vans and cargo bikes, we will make freight more efficient while also reducing road danger and cleaning up London’s toxic air.”

The Mayor’s Freight and Servicing Action plan sets out how the industry can continue to meet the freight and servicing needs of London’s growing population and economy, while reducing the number of lorries and vans entering central London during the morning peak by 10% by 2026. 

Key actions from the plan, include working with boroughs to better coordinate the control of freight movements on London’s roads and increasing use of water and rail.

Alex Williams, TfL’s director of city planning, said: “As London continues to grow, we all need to think about how we can keep freight moving whilst tackling toxic air and congestion and reducing danger to vulnerable road users.

“Whether through using click and collect points for online shopping, or shifting vehicle fleets to greener alternatives, we all have a part to play in making London a healthy and attractive place to live and work.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners and people across the capital to make our vision for cleaner and safer freight a reality.”

A click and collect site

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) hopes that the measures outlined in the Freight Action Plan will enable and support the industry to be as efficient as possible.

Natalie Chapman, FTA’s head of urban policy, said: “Many of the actions within the plan will be delivered at a borough level, so we need to see strong leadership and guidance to ensure they are implemented holistically and consistently.

“Without this, London’s 33 boroughs may end up introducing schemes in slightly different ways, which would make the regulatory environment even more complex than it currently is for the logistics industry, a sector which underpins the capital’s entire economy.”

Delivery company DPD has recently opened an all-electric depot in central London on former TfL land.

The depot is completely zero emission for both incoming parcels, served by two 7.5t fully-electric lorries, and for last-mile deliveries, carried out by a fleet of 10 electric vans and eight micro-vehicles.

DPD has invested £500,000 in the site, including extensive charging infrastructure, and the depot serves a two-square mile delivery radius in the heart of Westminster.

Justin Pegg, DPD’s chief operating officer, said: “DPD’s entire central London van fleet already meets the ULEZ standard, but we are looking to go further and create an all-electric fleet and a new network of micro depots across the capital. Micro depots mean shorter journeys, fewer vans on the road and zero emissions.

“While we already have two all-electric micro depots open and a third site agreed, there are still challenges to be overcome in terms of electrical infrastructure upgrades, site availability and the supply of electric vehicles on the scale we need for an all-electric fleet across the whole of central London. But by working in partnership with TfL, landlords and the other major stakeholders, we are well on the way to making deliveries more sustainable and safer.”

The Freight and Servicing Action plan also outlines how the most unsafe HGVs will be removed from London’s roads as part of the Mayor’s Vision Zero approach to reduce road danger.

TfL’s Direct Vision Standard for Heavy Goods Vehicles aims to tackle road danger by eliminating blind spots that are the cause of so many tragic deaths and life-changing injuries.

The scheme is due to be introduced in 2020 to improve vehicle safety and increase visibility of vulnerable road users.

HGVs will be given a rating between 'zero-star' (lowest) and 'five-star' (highest), with only those vehicles rated 'three-star' and above, or which have comprehensive safety systems, able to operate in London from 2024.

TfL recently awarded six business groups a share of £230,000 funding for innovative projects that make freight and deliveries more efficient.

The funding from TfL's Healthy Streets Fund for Business was matched by the business groups themselves and will be invested in schemes ranging from an electric freight consolidation centre at Borough Market, to underground waste storage containers in Vauxhall and the promotion of cycle freight in the London Bridge area.

TfL is currently accepting applications from BIDs and Business Partnerships for another round of funding from the scheme, with applications closing on March 19.

Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, Caroline Pidgeon, said:“This plan contains a number of recommendations from the Transport Committee’s Freight in London report.

"The committee recommended an increase in click and collect facilities at stations across its network, so it is good to see this is included as well as a commitment to promote this to customers.

“TfL has made a commitment to seek to transport materials, for TfL-funded projects, by modes that provide a safe, clean and efficient way of moving freight around the capital. 

"We recommended that TfL fully assesses the potential for using the river, rail or canals to move materials for its projects.

"We now want to see TfL showing leadership in working with the freight sector and other stakeholders to deliver this action plan. 

"In our letter to the Mayor, we recommended TfL reinstate a dedicated freight team to achieve this."

To read the Freight and Serving Action Plan, click here.

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