Information published on 4 February 2014 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 384.

Publication of “Mega trucks versus rail freight”

  • Freight

UIC, CER and Unife are pleased to present their brochure entitled “Mega trucks versus Rail Freight”.

The rail sector has long had concerns about the greater use of mega trucks and with this brochure wanted to outline why attempts to further liberalise their use should be opposed.

The three associations, which have been active in this debate since 2007 when they issued their first brochure, felt compelled to draw attention to the risks incurred if any wider use of mega trucks across Europe was allowed.

In June 2012, European Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas announced he was reinterpreting Directive 96/53/EC on the weights and dimensions of vehicles to permit the cross-border use of mega trucks between two member states that approve their use within their own borders. This announcement, which reversed the position the Commission had taken on this issue since the Directive was first approved, was made despite the strong opposition of MEPs on the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, and from some member states. In April 2013, this interpretation was included in the proposal put forward by the Commission to revise Directive 96/53/EC, finally allowing MEPs and member states to properly consider the proposal.

It is important to point out that the debate on cross-border circulation does not just concern 60-tonne trucks. If passed, the directive could permit the circulation of all trucks above 40 tonnes in weight and 18.75 metres in length if their member states agreed. It should also be noted that, for the first time, control of international transport will be passed from the European level down to that of member states. One of the rail sector’s primary political concerns is for a level playing-field and fair competition between all modes of transport.
Today, such fair competition is distorted by the lack of transparency in the societal costs of each transport mode, such as pollution, noise, congestion or accidents.

It is not the intention of the rail sector to ‘blame’ the road sector for trying to improve its efficiency. However, any attempts to liberalise current restrictions on use could have major implications that would be contrary to wider EU goals. The rail sector believes that the European Commission, the European Parliament and member states should not look at this issue in a simplistic and short-term way, but take into account the dynamic effects of mega trucks and their impact on the transport system as a whole.

Please visit our website to download the brochure:
http://www.uic.org/spip.php?article3238