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Tramping & Bun Wagons: The Lingo Of The UK Road Haulage Industry

Dec 28, 2007
If you've ever heard a couple of truckers chatting between road haulage trips in the UK, you may have found yourself baffled by the assortment of phrases and expressions littered throughout the conversation. Well, consider the confusion gone; as I lift the lid on the mystery of haulage company speak:

Wagon

Wagon's just a standard term for one's haulage vehicle. In my experience, UK road haulage workers are fiercely proud of the 'wagons' and make every effort to make them as glamorous and comfortable a space as possible. Which seems fair enough, considering how long they have to spend in such a tiny space.

Tramping

This one is as a direct result of making the 'wagon' comfortable - many heavy haulage and logistics drivers will take to spend days at a time camped out in their 'wagons'. Extended stays in this 'home away from home' is affectionately known as 'tramping'.

Cab

Technically, the part of the 'wagon' that the haulage company workers will spend their time 'tramping' in is the front section of the lorry with the controls. This part is known, in the UK road haulage industry, as the 'cab'.

Fitter

The fitter is, as you might expect, a mechanic charged with fixing up faulty haulage vehicles. With the daily use the 'wagons' take, its no wonder that a trip to the 'fitter' is a regular, but unwelcome part of the UK road haulage worker's schedule.

Forky

While it's tempting to consider this is a delightful colloquialism for cutlery, in the same way as "knifey" or "spooney" would be, it's actually just the term for a fork lift truck driver.

Shed

The 'shed' is simply the term for the warehouse - think of it as where the 'forkies' live.

Bun Wagon

I must admit, I was lost for words when I first heard this little gem slipped into conversation. What it actually refers to is one of those mobile fast food vans, which is often overly tempting to a haulage company worker with a rumbling stomach!

Back Loads

In normal deliveries, you take your 'load' up to the delivery point, then drive back and collect another. The back load is a clever solution to save on fuel costs, where the driver arranges to make another pickup at the drop off point, allowing them to earn a little more and save on fuel costs with a well timed delivery on the journey home.

Milk Run

If a haulage company's driver has a days work composing of quite a few deliveries on a set route, the day's work is playfully described as a 'milk run'.

Finally, there are a couple of expressions that workers in the UK road haulage industry are well used to hearing, much to their frustration:

"It's only 2 inches on the map - what's taken you so long?"

Usually delivered in a frustrated tone, to regular haulage company drivers, inches on a map can be easily translated into an approximate delivery time!

"I'll call you back in a minute"

In more professions, this means exactly what it says: you will be called back shortly, because something's come up. In the world of heavy freight and logistics, this almost universally means "I have tired of talking to you now, and am going to end the conversation."
About the Author
Luke Humble is the Website manager for The Transport Exchange Group. Their exchange for the heavy freight and logistics industry, Haulage Exchange, offers back loads to owner operators and haulage companies all over the UK.
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