Night deliveries in London: Olympic Games from 2012 as best practice

Night deliveries in London: Olympic Games from 2012 as best practice

Laura Schmidt Blog, Supply Chain

The most common time frame for accidents in London is the rush hour from 7-10am and 6-8pm. Especially hauliers are involved in accidents due to the size of their vehicles and their restricted view. Due to the London Council it is not allowed for Lorries to enter certain roads in and around London before 7am in the morning. For drivers, this is clearly a struggle, because they need to drop off their deliveries on time. The solution drivers found for themselves is driving on the open roads until 7am as close to their destination as possible. This can also mean making a detour and not going the shortest and most efficient way. This costs the haulier more time, gas, and thus, money. Additionally, the extra time spent on the roads increases the probability for accidents even more.

The most reasonable solution against the congestion and accident rate would be night deliveries. It would be speedier, more efficient, more sustainable and would decrease the vehicles during rush hour. However, the London Council restricts this and calls it the London Lorry Control Scheme.

The London Lorry Control Scheme was introduced by the Council in 1985 to restrict the movement of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) with a maximum gross weight of 18 tonnes. Its main aim is to protect residents from noise pollution and the city of London from general pollution. However, it needs to be kept in mind, that the control scheme is 33 years old and technology made trucks quieter today and the process of loading and unloading them as well. Furthermore, it is proven that one of pollution’s biggest factors are traffic jams. By opening the roads for trucks at 7am in the morning, the HGVs hit the roads of London at the same time as all other cars and increase the rush hour congestion even more. If the London councils would give the truckers the option of entering the city at an earlier time, the rush hour congestion and therefore the street congestion could be significantly decreased. A counter argument here could be the noise pollution, however, London already had a pilot project to test this in 2011. The London Olympic Games made it necessary to close most of the main roads in the London inner city during the day, so deliveries to, for example, retailers needed to be carried out during the night.

During the Games, it was decided that some routes are going to be dedicated to the Games’ traffic from 6am to midnight. This means that companies can be cut off from their employees or suppliers, and retailers must rely on night deliveries or stock (Evening Standard, 2011). Trials showed in early 2011 that businesses are open to consider out-of-hour deliveries. A code of practice was created to ensure that these deliveries are executed with a minimum disruption to locals (Noise Abatement Society, 2011). This approach can have a positive impact on the air quality, vehicle noises, road crossing and footway widening (TfL, 2011).

TfL had over 200 workshops to support receiving goods (London loves Business, 2012). Major supermarkets like Sainsbury’s started to work with quieter refrigerators, stopped crashing empty bottles and started using goods cages with rubber wheels (Evening Standard 2011). A Marks and Spencer store successfully managed the first week of trials by monitoring drivers and staff behaviour. Hereby they made sure to respect the Code of Practice and other equipment improvements. The store is located in a sensitive area, however, no resident complaints were filed in three weeks of 4:30am deliveries (Noise Abatement Society, 2011). Finally, the night delivery trials were named a success by the London Transport Commissioner, Peter Hendy, and he stated that out-of-hour deliveries played a crucial role for the Game period. Hendly said: “We are talking to London Councils about suspending the night-time lorry ban because that way you change the demand on the roads. If you can do it before the Olympics it might rub off” (Evening Standard, 2011).

The Mayor of London called the project a stonking success and the fact that businesses were able to save money and reduce congestion is the sort of innovative solution London needs (TfL, 2013). James Hookham, Freight Transport Association’s Managing Director for Policy & Communications, said that the success could even symbolize a higher pressure to change the logistic situation in London.

With all these positive results, it is hard to understand how the London Lorry Control Scheme is still operating according to its original strategies. Additionally, Commercial Motor Live (2012) states that it does not necessarily need to be over-night deliveries, but a shift from 7am to 5am could already have a positive impact on the congestion and air quality, which is exactly what local councils are looking for. A slight change to earlier deliveries with certain stipulations could help the entire congestion problem and reduce the accident rate and road safety, while also improving pollution. It is evident that most accidents happen after 7am, therefore, a reduction of some HGVs on the street might help this problem (TfL, 2011). Furthermore, running engines during traffic jams causes unnecessary pollution. Other big European cities already have and even encourage night deliveries like Paris, where certain sized trucks are only allowed at night (Evening Standard, 2012).