05. April 2017

Longer vehicles to be challenged in court

Allowing Gigaliners in Germany contrary to EU law / Pro-Rail Alliance, BUND and DUH taking case to court in Berlin

Gigaliners are dangerous, harm the environment, are expensive for taxpayers – and are unlawful under EU regulations. Federal transport minister Dobrindt’s go-it-alone decision is being challenged in court. Lawyer Professor Remo Klinger explains the details of the legal case.
Gigaliners are dangerous, harm the environment, are expensive for taxpayers – and are unlawful under EU regulations. Federal transport minister Dobrindt’s go-it-alone decision is being challenged in court. Lawyer Professor Remo Klinger explains the details of the legal case.

Berlin, April 5, 2017. A broad alliance of organisations from the Pro-Rail Alliance, BUND (Friends of the Earth) and the DUH (German environmental organisation) are taking legal action to prevent longer heavy goods vehicles from operating freely on German roads. The Federal Transport Ministry’s general approval for the longer trucks, which can measure over 25 metres, came into effect on January 1, 2017. At a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday, the organisations stated that this is unlawful under EU regulations. The so-called Gigaliners are a danger to Germany’s climate targets and pose an unforeseeable risk to other road users. “Allowing longer vehicles to operate freely is an outmoded gift to the HGV lobby. Three-quarters of Germans oppose Gigaliners on our roads,” was how the organisations justified their law suit, which is being dealt with by the administrative court in Berlin.

Legally questionable: Approving Gigaliners for normal operations breaks EU law

“Giving approval to longer HGVs to operate regularly clearly breaks EU directive 96/53 (EC), which defines maximum dimensions for heavy goods vehicles. Exceeding these limits is only permitted in exceptional cases for certain tasks or as part of a test. The regulations do not allow longer HGVs to operate normally on the roads. That is contrary to EU law,” said Remo Klinger, the lawyer who is representing the Pro-Rail Alliance, BUND and DUH in court.

DUH: The fantasy about environmentally friendly longer HGVs

“We are sure that the lawsuit filed at the administrative court on April 4, 2017 will prevent Gigaliners from operating in Germany,” said national managing director of the DUH, Jürgen Resch. Once again, federal transport minister Alexander Dobrindt is deliberately flouting EU law and is one-sidedly representing the interests of the automotive industry. In contrast, it is rail freight transport that will suffer. Protecting the environment and the climate will fall by the wayside. Dobrindt is telling people fairy tales about supposedly environmentally-friendly giant HGVs. In fact, he is making road freight transport even cheaper,” said Resch. Federal transport minister Dobrindt has once again won out against federal environment minister Barbara Hendricks, who although she has her doubts, she voices them very quietly. “Four years of transport policy under Dobrindt, the automotive industry’s representative in the Federal Republic of Germany, have taken the country further away than ever from achieving its climate goals.”

Video: Stoppen the Gigaliners!

Pro-Rail Alliance: People do not want longer vehicles

The managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance, Dirk Flege, accused the federal transport minister of ignoring the will of the people on transport policy by giving general approval for longer vehicles. “The pollsters Forsa have carried out opinion polls, and the results have remained consistent over many years: three quarters of Germans do not want to have longer HGVs on the roads. Above all because they are afraid of accidents,” said Flege. Instead of strengthening the safe and environmentally friendly freight railways, Germany’s transport policies are one-sided in favour of the roads and distort competition. “Because of bottlenecks on the network, freight trains in Germany rarely even reach the standard EU length of 740 metres, with projects to upgrade the network being kept on hold for many years. However, when it comes to increasing the length of HGVs, transport minister Dobrindt cannot act quickly enough”, criticised Flege. “The environment and road safety will have to pay the price.”

BUND: State transport ministers also have an obligation

The chairman of BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany), Hubert Weiger, said that the transport ministers of the states now also have an obligation to act. “States that originally only agreed to a five-year test period for longer vehicles are now having regular operations swiftly imposed on them. At the same time, the states are increasing the number of routes that Gigaliners are permitted to use. Our criticism is quite clear: Gigaliners are bad for climate protection and will lead to higher investments being made in the railways. They are only good for the HGV lobby. In view of the uncertain legal position of the general approval for longer vehicles, transport companies would not be well advised if they make large investments experimenting with Gigaliners.

Organisations set up protest platform for the public

The Pro-Rail Alliance, BUND and DUH have set up an online platform (www.keine-gigaliner.de) where people can directly address their protests against the ever-growing road network for longer vehicles to the competent national or regional authorities. “The overwhelming majority of Germans are opposed to these vehicles. The competent ministries must now finally recognise this,” was the organisations’ message. They called on all members of the public to say “no to Gigaliners”. The protest letters are addressed to the transport ministers of the federal states and will be delivered to federal transport minister Alexander Dobrindt before the next general election.

Links (German):

Background paper

Statement of case against longer vehicles

Protest platform: www.keine-gigaliner.de

Press contacts:

  • Dr. Barbara Mauersberg, press officer Pro-Rail Alliance, +49 (0)30 462599-20, presse@allianz-pro-schiene.de, www.allianz-pro-schiene.de
  • Rüdiger Rosenthal, press officer BUND, +49 (0)30 27586-425/-464, Mobil: +49 (0)171-8311051, presse@bund.net, www.bund.net
  • Andrea Kuper, press officer DUH Deutsche Umwelthilfe, +49 (0)30 2400867-20, E-Mail: presse@duh.de, www.duh.de