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Increased mega truck mileage hidden by EU research

5th October 2009

The European Commission continues to use flawed research which hides the fact that mega trucks would mean more truck mileage not less, despite the fact that the Commission's consultants was forced to acknowledge their error in June 2009, according to Freight on Rail.

Mega Trucks
German Trials Allianz pro Schiene/Kraufmann

When corrected, this method shows that mega trucks would infact lead to increased vehicle kilometres instead of a reduction in vehicle kilometres. The assumptions for safety and environmental improvement using mega trucks depend entirely on the prediction of a dramatic reduction in vehicles kilometres which are derived from incorrect calculations. This error, exposed by Freight on Rail, renders the assertions in the Terms of reference for the forthcoming EC research misleading.

Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail Manager said “We recognise that the different freight modes complement each other; co-modality means using each mode to its strengths. Large quantities of long distance freight can be more sustainably and more safely carried by rail, than in even larger lorries.”

She added that “The reality is that, even though the UK Government voted against trials of mega trucks in June 2008, if Europe gives the go-ahead for cross border mega trucks traffic between member states, they will come to the UK by default, over time. The commissions’ own sponsored research showed that mega trucks are individually more dangerous than standard HGVs1. Europeans do not want mega trucks imposed on them, the latest poll in France in July showed 81%2 of the French were opposed and recent polls showed 73%3 of Germans and 75%4 of British people oppose mega trucks.”

For further information contact please contact Philippa Edmunds at Freight on Rail on 020 8241 9982 mobile 07981 881410 email: web site

Members are Direct Rail Services, DB Schenker, Freightliner, ASLEF, RMT, TSSA, UNITE, Rail Freight Group and Campaign for Better Transport

Notes to editors

1. Previous increases in lorry dimensions have resulted in more lorries driving around less full, causing more road congestion and more pollution, which is the reverse of what was claimed would happen. The proponents of LHVs are using the same flawed arguments again. The proposed vehicles would be 25.5 metres long 60 tonnes in weight which is fifty per cent longer than existing trucks and a third heavier.

2. LHVs would destroy intermodal (container traffic) rail freight and 50% of bulk traffic would go to road. Rail freight delivers a 70% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the equivalent road journey. Source DFT Logistics Perspective Dec 2008 rail produces 3.4 times less CO2 per tonne-km than road transport

The JRC, part of the European Commission, research5 admits that mega trucks would have a detrimental effect on rail freight, the low carbon, energy-efficient safe alternative.

3. LHVs have dangers of their own due to their size and lack of manoeuvrability
The European Commission's own research in Jan 2009 stated that mega trucks are individually more dangerous than standard HGVs. – TML Effects of adapting the rules on weights and dimentions of heavy commercial vehicles as established within directirve 96/53/EC P14 penultimate line 6 November 2008 on DGTREN website

In most circumstances the transport of freight is safer by rail than by road, due to lack of proper enforcement of drivers’ hours, vehicle overloading and differing foreign operating standards.

4. Road haulage industry has a poor record in complying with existing road regulations
Over 82% of HGVs exceeded their speed limit of 50 mph on dual carriageways and almost three-quarters exceeded the 40 mph limit on single carriageway non-built up roads in 2007.

VOSA spot checks in October 2008 found that half of UK registered HGVs stopped were breaking the law. International Freighting Weekly 21st October 2008.

5. Longer heavier lorries will have minimal impact on road congestion whereas a freight train which is designed for heavy and bulky cargoes, can remove up to 160 HGVs from our roads. Source Network Rail 2008.

6. Trying to restrict LHVs to dual-carriageways and motorways simply will not work
The promoters are claiming that these vehicles will be restricted to motorways, dual carriageways and major roads, but there is no mechanism available to keep them to this and the type of road has not been fully clarified. The reality is that these vehicles will need local access to distribution hubs which would not be on motorways/dual carriageways, but on roads which are totally unsuitable for vehicles of this scale.

7. HGVs are up to 160,000 times more damaging to road surfaces than the average car; some of the heaviest road repair costs are therefore almost exclusively attributable to the heaviest vehicles. Source

MTRU Road maintenance costs to local authorities March 2006

8. The claimed environmental benefits of LHVs rely on very high levels of load utilisation – in excess of that routinely achieved within the haulage sector. Therefore at lower levels of utilisation the environmental performance of LHVs would be worse. German trials showed that utilisation of above 77% for LHVs was needed for fuel costs to breakeven. In 2006 in the UK HGVs over 33 tonnes were only 73% full. Source Umwelt Bundes Amt August 07 and UK CSRGT 2006

TML error is still on web site

TML was forced to admit to two serious errors in June 2009, exposed by Freight on Rail which distorted the arguments in favour of mega trucks. The second error, which still exists in the TML research, (even though it has been acknowledged by the consultants TML) when corrected, shows that it would no longer be correct to state that LHVs would lead to less vehicle kms as this method shows that in the preferred scenario unlimited LHV use will end up to 6% more vehicle kms. In method 2 the consultants assumed that mega trucks will run full, even when the HGVs they replace may not have done so and additionally they assumed that this will not affect the load factors of the HGVs they replace which is completely unrealistic. See attached file for details. mtru Load factor error.


1. TML Effects of adapting the rules on weights and dimentions of heavy commercial vehicles as established within directirve 96/53/EC P14 penultimate line 6 November 2008 on DGTREN website

2. following results of the poll on French trials on mega trucks (81% against mega trucks and 79% worried on road safety): France Nature Environnement

3. please see the results of the German poll here (73% against):

4. Aslef Mori opinion poll August 2007

5. JRC Longer and Heavier /Vehicles for freight Transport Panayotis Chrisitidis Guillaume Leduc EUR 23933 ~EN 2009

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