Two fully electric powered roadworks vehicles are being trialled by Highways England for the first time.
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.
The trial is part of a package of air quality measures unveiled by Highways England to improve air quality along motorways and major A roads. Further measures 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.
The five-month trial of the electric roadworks vehicles is being funded from the company’s £75million ring fenced fund designated for air quality improvements, which the company intends to spend in the current road investment period.
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.”
Highways England is working with H W Martin (Traffic Management Ltd) to trial the vehicles, which are being used for various tasks including traffic management, maintenance operations, and the installation and removal of lane closures for construction work. Experts from the University of Bath are helping collect and analyse data as part of this scientific trial to determine what activities these new vehicles are best suited to.
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 electric traffic management vehicle trial is running between April and August. This will be followed by a post-trial report, the results of which will inform future work around assessing how charging infrastructures are deployed for major projects and looking at the future potential for using electric roadworks vehicles.