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Brussels to allow massive road-trains across Europe.

11th April 2013

Freight on Rail is calling on Brussels to set maximum limits on the length and weight of HGVs in its new legislation 1 to avoid more fatalities 2, more road congestion and pollution.

A. The new legislation must set maximum HGV dimensions at 18.75 metres length and 44 tonnes for international transport, to prevent general circulation of massive road trains.

B. The new legislation should not allow cross border traffic 3 of mega trucks as this policy would lead to mega trucks across Europe by default over time.

C. In countries which allow mega trucks, national limits should be set prohibiting mega trucks of 25 metres from using non dual carriageway/motorways in order to protect cyclists, pedestrians and general traffic. 4

Freight on Rail Manager, Philippa Edmunds said,”Unless Europe sets maximum weights and length limits for HGVs in international traffic in its current revision of the legislation, there will be more needless fatal collisions, more road congestion and more pollution.

She added that, ”Without these limits, ever bigger heavier lorries will come to the UK over time if they are allowed to travel across international borders within Europe, as proposed. European bureaucrats are proposing permitting cross border mega trucks traffic without evaluating the impacts, contrary to the Commission’s own rules 5. Instead, Europe should be promoting freight by rail, in line with its own policy 6”.

Notes to editors

1. On Monday 15th April the European Transport Commissioner, Siim Kallas, will publish the Commission proposal for revising the directive 96/53 which governs the international circulation of HGVs.

2. Commission’s own research stated that mega trucks are more dangerous than existing HGVs– TML Effects of adapting the rules on weights and dimensions of HGVs P14 penultimate line 6 November 2008 DGTREN website.
The double articulation of a mega trucks increases side to side oscillation ie a “snake” (rear amplification) and problems with other manoeuvres at cruising speeds, for example changing lane on a dual carriageway. There is a conflict here between the manoeuvrability needed in urban areas with a dangerous loss of stability at cruising speeds. Source Table 26/27 Assessment results of the handling characteristics Knight & Wohrmann 2008

3. If Brussels allows cross border traffic of mega trucks between consenting countries, the UK road haulage industry will pressurise the UK Government to allow mega trucks on UK roads on competition grounds (domino effect).
In the Netherlands the weight limit on 25 metre mega trucks has been increased from 50 to 60 tonnes with Finland increasing the weight limit to 76 tonnes; Sweden is now trialling 30 metre (100ft) HGVs with an 80 tonne weight limit between urban areas.

4. Normal non dual carriageway roads are not designed for 25 metre HGVs and are therefore not suitable for these vehicles which have to perform difficult manoeuvres and come into contact with cyclists and pedestrians. The Dutch trials stated that mega trucks should only be allowed on roads with separate infrastructure for bikes which does not exist in the UK and in most member states.

5. The ramifications of allowing cross border traffic are largely unknown as the Commission has not carried out any impact assessment.

6. EU Transport White Paper objective is to transfer 30% of long distance road freight to rail and water by 2030 and 50% by 2050. January 2011

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