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UK Government sending mixed messages as MEPs block spread of mega trucks.

15th April 2014

Campaigners welcomed the rejection by MEPs today (Tuesday 15 April) of the proposal to allow cross border use of mega trucks, but warned the position of the UK Government remains ambiguous.

Philippa Edmunds, Freight on Rail Manager, said: “MEPs are right to reject the wider use of mega trucks as these larger vehicles cause more road fatalities, increase congestion, are more polluting and cause additional road damage as well as undermining rail freight, the low carbon, energy efficient  and safer alternative. However, our concern is that the UK Government might try to torpedo the ban. Despite Ministers’ claims that the UK would block mega truck traffic here, Conservative MEPs voted against the ban sending out mixed signals.”

The road haulage industry is advocating longer heavier vehicles, which will be more dangerous. Sweden has just announced that it will increase the weight of its 25 metre trucks from 60 to 74 tonnes, with trials of 30 metre, 80 tonne trucks already taking place there. Freight on Rail believes that the European Commission should concentrate on measures that would support modal shift of freight to rail, which is intrinsically safer and more environmentally friendly than road. 

Notes to Editors

  1. The full European Parliament vote on the weights and dimensions directive 96/53 on 15 April rejected the Commission proposal to liberalise the use of mega trucks across Europe and demanded that the European Commission carried out detailed research by 2016, in line with European rules, to evaluate the potential safety, environmental congestion and infrastructure costs before considering further use of mega trucks across Europe. The Council decision, where individual Member States vote followed by trialogue process, will both take place after the European Elections.
  2. Mega trucks are 25 metres (82ft) long and weigh 60 tonnes, that’s three times as long as a double decker bus and equivalent to the weight of 52 cars.  Existing cross border limits for HGVs is 18.75 metres (61.5ft) and 40 tonnes weight across the EU.
  3. MEP Peter van Dalen made the following amendment on behalf of ECR Group of which Conservative MEPs are members</NumAm>:  
  4. The European Commission’s own research stated that individual mega trucks are more dangerous than existing HGVs. Source: TML Effects of adapting the rules on weights and dimensions of HGVs  P14 penultimate line 6 November 2008 DGTREN website.
  5. Existing HGVs are involved in 52% of fatal motorway accidents even though they make up 11% of the traffic. Source: Traffic statistics table TRA0104, Accident statistics Table RAS 30017, both DfT  published 2013 for 2012 figures.
  6. A Swedish Government study showed that increasing truck weights from 51.4 to 60 tonnes with extra length of 1.25 metres between 1990 and 1993 led to modal shift with road increasing its share by 6.5%.
  7. Finland has increased the weight limits from 60 to 76 tonnes, while the Netherlands has increased weight limits from 50 to 60 tonnes on their 25 metre trucks
  8. Freight on Rail, a partnership of Campaign for Better Transport, the rail freight industry, the Transport Trade Unions and the Rail Freight Group, works to promote the economic, safety and environmental benefits of rail freight


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