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Cross border mega trucks would cost UK taxpayers billions.

15th April 2013

Brussels’ proposal, 1 announced today, to allow mega trucks 2 to cross international borders would lead to mega trucks coming to the UK by default over time and cost taxpayers billions 3 in infrastructure adaptation and maintenance, according to Freight on Rail.

Despite this, European bureaucrats have not evaluated the impacts and cost to society of this policy, contrary to European rules.

Whilst the UK Government currently says it will not allow mega trucks to circulate in the UK, it will come under huge pressure from the road haulage industry on competition grounds to allow these lorries, once mega trucks are allowed to travel internationally, despite all the adverse safety 4, congestion 5 and environmental consequences 6. Therefore the UK Government should continue to resist pressure for their introduction in the strongest terms.

Philippa Edmunds said, “For Europe to introduce a policy without analysing the overall impacts which will inflict huge costs on taxpayers is irresponsible, especially at a time of austerity.

She added that “The UK taxpayer has barely finished paying for the bridge strengthening increases to 40/44 tonnes and yet they will be forced to pay the billion pounds cost to adapt the infrastructure and the extra wear and tear on our roads as a result of mega trucks. In Austria alone, it would cost 5.3 billion euros to adapt the motorway and dual carriageway network. Instead, Europe should be promoting freight by rail, in line with its own policy 7”.

Notes to editors

1. On 15 April, the European Commissioner for Transport, Siim Kallas, announced proposals to review the Weights and Dimensions regulations (Directive 96/53). Article 4 states that 25 metre mega trucks should be allowed to cross international borders between consenting countries.

2. 25 metre (80 ft) length

3. The Austrian study by Asfinag calculates 5.3 billion euros for the highways and federal roads (25 m/60 t).2009 in Austria alone. |
Source: ASFINAG (2009) - LHV – Auswirkungen auf das A+S-Netz. TEIL 4. Kostenermittlung, p. 7 Germany - The costs for the bridges alone in the 25 m/60 t scenario 8 billion € for highway bridges (Autobahnen). 3 billion € for bridges on other federal roads (Bundesstraßen)
Source: Bundesanstalt für Straßenwesen (2008) – Auswirkungen von neuen Fahrzeugkonzepten, p. 27

4. 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

5. Longer heavier lorries will cause more road congestion as extra time will be needed to clear junctions and railway crossings whereas each of the heaviest UK trains can remove up to 160 HGVs from our roads.
Source: Value of Freight Network Rail 2010.

6. Mega trucks will devastate consumer rail freight which has a much better environmental record than road. UK rail freight produces 70% less Carbon dioxide emissions than the equivalent road journey. Jan 200/ DfT Logistics Perspective Dec 2008 p 8 section 10

7. EU Transport White Paper objectis 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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