Themes: CargoEurope
11. March 2015

“Stop sign for pseudo freight transport solutions”

EU Parliament upholds ban on environmentally damaging LHVs

Longer heavy goods vehicles can be found everywhere in Sweden and Finland. Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany are carrying out road trials. The EU is now taking a different approach.

Berlin, March 11, 2015. On Tuesday, the European parliament in Strasburg passed new directives for the dimensions and weight of heavy goods vehicles. The parliamentarians upheld the ban on cross-border journeys by oversized HGVs, also known as LHVs or gigaliners. In contrast, they approved a new type of HGV design with a rounded driver’s cab, which is intended to improve traffic safety for cyclists and pedestrians. Whereas several EU member states allow LHVs to use the roads, the EU itself has shown the so-called gigaliner a stop sign and has taken a fundamentally different approach based on improvements to traffic safety.

“The EU parliament has voted for sustainable mobility and has not been fooled by the environmentally damaging pseudo solutions that the supporters of ever longer and ever heavier vehicles are putting forward,” said Martin Roggermann, coordinator of the pan-European alliance ‘No Mega Trucks’, on Wednesday in Berlin. “If cross-border journeys had been allowed then LHVs would have found their way into many European countries,” added Roggermann, who coordinates the No Mega Trucks campaign from within the umbrella organisation Pro-Rail Alliance.

Opponents of the concept of oversized vehicles criticise the fact that it will mean cost benefits for road freight transport and therefore distort competition. This will lead to transportation being shifted from environmentally friendly transport modes such as goods trains and the inland waterways and back onto the roads, which will negatively impact road traffic safety, the environment and public finances.

Video: Gigaliners – a horror scenario for Germany (German)


Additional information (German)

Questions and answers on longer, heavier vehicles

1. What actually is a longer, heavier vehicle?
They are known as Gigaliners, EuroCombis, Ecoliners or Long-HGVs, but behind the harmless sounding names are quite simply even longer and heavier goods vehicles. As part of its current so-called field trials, Germany allows trucks measuring 25 metres and weighing up to 44 tonnes. But where LHVs are already being used in other parts of Europe they can weigh up to 60 tonnes, for example in the Netherlands and Denmark. Sweden has just announced that it is increasing the maximum weight from 60 tonnes to 74 tonnes. Trials of trucks measuring 30 metres and weighing up to 90 tonnes are underway.











Longer HGV = 25.25 metres, Standard HGV = 18.75 metres, Car = 4.2 metres

2. Where can mega trucks be found on Europe’s roads?

LHVs have been in use in Finland and Sweden for some time now. However, Scandinavia’s regions are very spread out and thinly populated, with low volumes of traffic. These countries cannot be compared with the rest of Europe, where the road network is dense and the traffic is very heavy, making them unsuitable for LHVs. In addition, Denmark and the Netherlands are running trials of 25 metre trucks that weigh 60 tonnes.

3. Where are LHVs being used in Germany?
The German government issued an exemption provision in December 2011 to allow trials of LHVs to take place. Apart from motorways and federal roads, the federal government’s provision allows mega trucks to use numerous regional, district and local roads. The following federal states are allowing the use of longer vehicles: Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Hesse, Thuringia, Saxony and Bavaria. Since the change of government in Schleswig-Holstein the state has become more critical of the trials. The trials are due to last five years until 2016. Two appeals to Germany’s constitutional court on the constitutional legality of the government’s decision to allow trials of LHVs on the basis of an exemption provision have been rejected.

4. What are the supporters hoping for?
The supporters of longer vehicles like to back up their cause using environmental arguments, but in reality they are hoping to make savings of up to 30 percent for road transport. The supporters of longer vehicles include the VDA, the German Automobile Industry Association, the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services, and various other road transport associations.

5. What are the opponents afraid of?
The opponents of longer vehicles are afraid that the cost reductions gained by using LHVs will be lead to an increase in the volume of road freight transport. The cost advantage from LHVs could lead to goods being shifted back onto the roads from more environmentally friendly transport modes, resulting in more truck journeys and a greater impact on the environment. The opponents of LGVs include the automobile clubs, environmental groups and railway companies that make up the Pro-Rail Alliance as well as the German Association of Cities and the German Police Union. On the European level, opposition has joined forces in the No Mega Trucks campaign.

6. What has the EU decided on LHVs?
The European parliament rejected by a large majority moves by the EU Commission to make changes to a directive that would allow longer, heavier vehicles (LHVs) to make cross-border journeys between neighbouring countries. Whereas trials of LHVs are currently taking place in several member states, the EU has now shown the so-called Gigaliners a stop sign. With its proposals for improving safety and optimising  aerodynamics, it is taking a completely different approach.