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Trucking Industry UK

The difference between HGV, LGV, rigid, artic and road train: What’s best for the job?

The difference between HGV, LGV, rigid, artic and road train: What’s best for the job?

What do you call yours? Do you drive a lorry, truck, rigid lorry, HGV or LGV? What’s the difference anyway?

When you start looking at the words themselves, you start finding some differences between HGV or LGV and lorry.

For example, the word lorry comes from the Old English word ‘lurry’, which means ‘pull’. It’s a word used in British vocabulary, as well as in Ireland, India, Malaysia and Singapore. From lorry, you also get artic lorry and rigid lorry.

Truck, deriving from the Latin word trochlea (meaning pulley), is used in both British and American English. In the US, they also refer to their trucks as rigs, semis, tractors, and 18-wheelers, but we’ll stick with the difference between HGV and LGV, lorry and road train for now.

HGV and LGV are acronyms that mean heavy goods vehicle, large goods vehicle or light goods vehicle, depending on who you’re talking to. Find out more about the difference between an HGV and LGV.

But before we get bogged down with the words themselves, here’s a rundown of what lorry, truck, artic, HGV or road train is best for the job.

Rigid lorry

A key feature of a rigid lorry is that it doesn’t have flexibility between the cab and the trailer. This makes driving them not that different from a car – just a lot bigger. If you are a new HGV driver, a rigid lorry is a good starter vehicle you can work up from.

Most rigid lorries are rear-access only, so not suitable for transporting all goods (although some do have sliding side doors and roof access). The electric tail lift means goods can be unloaded more easily than from a large van.

Capacity: mid-range loads of around 26 tonnes or 14 standard-sized pallets.

Articulated lorry

Artic lorries are made up from two parts – a cab pulling a trailer. They are also referred to as HGVs or LGVs. You need to be moving large, heavy loads for these vehicles to be financially viable. Artic lorries offer a very different driving experience compared to a rigid lorry, and it can be quite a leap making the move from one to the other.

Artic lorries are suitable for ferry crossings as the trailer can be separated from the cab and picked up by another driver at the other end. As a result, they are often considered a cheaper option by hauliers when transporting goods overseas. Longer versions of artics (known as longer semi-trailers or LSTs) have also proven to significantly cut mileage and CO2 emissions.

Capacity: large loads up to 44 tonnes and six axles.

Road train

The largest vehicle you can drive on UK roads, road trains are made up of one cab and multiple trailers. However, although they are longer in length, road trains can only legally carry up to 44 tonnes and have up to six axles. This makes them a good option for the transport of larger but lighter goods. 

Uptake of road trains has been limited in the UK as they can be expensive, but the government is considering trialling 25-metre double artics on Britain’s roads as part of a wider multi-modal transport strategy.

Capacity: large loads up to 44 tonnes and six axles.

Whether you’re thinking of becoming an LGV or HGV driver in the UK or you run a haulage company, knowing the difference between an HGV, LGV, lorry or truck is essential – which one will you choose for your next job?

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