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Highways England trials electric vehicles

Highways England has deployed two fully electric roadworks vehicles under a five-month trial that will explore their potential on a wider basis.

Electric traffic management trial vehicle. Picture courtesy of H W Martin Ltd

The LDV EV80s were supplied as chassis cabs, with H W Martin (Traffic Management Ltd) adapting them for traffic management use with a flat bed.

One of the vehicles is being used across the East Midlands and the other on a major scheme which is improving the A14 in the East of England. Tasks include traffic management, maintenance operations, and the installation and removal of lane closures for construction work.

The data from the trial, which runs till end of August, will be collected and analysed in partnership with the University of Bath to determine what activities these new vehicles are best suited to. The post-trial report will inform future work around the future potential for using electric roadworks vehicles but will also assess how charging infrastructures are deployed for major projects.

Ryan Wood, technical manager for H W Martin (Traffic Management Ltd), said: “These two fully electric vehicles are the first of their kind to be used for roadworks on England’s motorway and major A roads. Undertaking these trials will allow us to understand first-hand how the vehicles perform while carrying out different tasks and how current charging infrastructure provides a network for their use. Not only are we understanding the real-world performance of the vehicle but also how our drivers adapt their behaviour. This study allows us to continue moving our industry towards a more sustainable future.”

The five-month trial of the vehicles is being funded from Highways England £75m ring fenced fund designated for air quality improvements, which the company intends to spend in the current road investment period, from April 2015 to March 2020.

Other measures being deployed include a barrier to be installed alongside the M1 in South Yorkshire to help improve air quality for the local community and installing more electric charge points on or near the motorway network.

Highways England’s Martin Bolt, corporate group leader, operations directorate (Midlands) said: “We are actively exploring opportunities to improve air quality for those travelling on or living near our roads as well as reduce exposure for road workers. These vehicles help with that and also reduce noise for nearby residents. We are now investigating how widely electric vehicles could sustainably be used across Highways England’s roads.”

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Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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