02. January 2017

Mega trucks: Pro-Rail Alliance considers legal measures

Is minister’s unilateral decision on regular use of longer HGVs unlawful?

Forcing through regular use. Gigaliners are allowed to operate – for now. The Pro-Rail Alliance is considering legal steps.
Unilateral decision with consequences. Federal transport minister Dobrindt is allowing regular operations of 25 metre trucks in Germany against the will of the environment ministry.

Berlin, January 2, 2017. In the increasingly bitter dispute within the federal government about the future of longer goods vehicles, the German Pro-Rail Alliance is firmly on the side of the German environment ministry. After the environment ministry sharply criticised the transport ministry’s unilateral decision to allow the 25.25 metre HGVs to operate regularly from January 1, 2017 without further consultation, the Pro-Rail Alliance is now considering legal measures. “We are looking at taking legal action against transport minister Alexander Dobrindt’s unilateral decision to allow regular operations,” said the managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance, Dirk Flege, on Monday in Berlin.

Environment ministry: Longer HGVs are a mistake

In a statement on Monday, the secretary of state in the federal environment ministry, Jochen Flasbarth, criticised the fact that Dobrindt’s ammendment order was “not voted on by the government, and is a mistake in terms of environmental and transport policy.” The environment ministry’s statement went on to say that the ramifications of allowing longer HGVs, their impact on the environment and their effect on rail transport have all not been sufficiently researched.

EU: Allowing regular operations unlawful?

Pro-Rail Alliance managing director Dirk Flege: “When the permanent secretary of state in the federal environment ministry openly says that the federal transport minister’s decision to allow regular operations has created ‘facts on the ground’ that are not compatible with EU regulations, that is a very serious accusation indeed. As a recognised environmental association, we intend to use our legal right to pursue this matter.” From the point of the Pro-Rail Alliance it is very revealing when the federal environment ministry confirms that the supporters of longer HGVs, by allowing regular operations, are contradicting the federal government’s own target for shifting more freight from the roads to the railways. Flege: “The so-called Gigaliners are bad news for climate protection, expensive for taxpayers and dangerous for all road users.”

Longer HGVs are dangerous, expensive and damage the environment

After the conclusion of the five-year trials of longer heavy goods vehicles on designated routes and one day after the ‘seventh amendment order to the provision granting exemptions to the national highway code’s rules on longer vehicles and longer vehicle combinations’ came into force, the Pro-Rail Alliance verdict on the concept of longer vehicles continues to be a clear rejection:

  • Longer HGVs will damage the environment because by lowering the cost of road transport, freight will be shifted from the railways to the roads, as has already happened in Sweden. This will result in an increase, not a reduction in HGVs on Germany’s roads, with forecasts of up to 7000 additional HGV journeys being made. The environmentally friendly freight railways will be negatively impacted. This is something that the road trials with only a small number of vehicles could not show.
  • Longer HGVs are expensive for taxpayers because bigger trucks will disproportionally damage the already ailing road infrastructure. The public will also be asked to pay for upgrades to tunnels and parking bays, even though the federal transport ministry has only just cut road toll charges on HGVs.
  • Longer HGVs are dangerous for car drivers. Even today, a heavy goods vehicle is involved in one if five fatal accidents, which is why most Germans are opposed to these vehicles, according to a survey by the pollsters Forsa. The trials cannot refute the safety risks because only a few vehicles were involved in the road trials.

Additional information (German)

Gigaliner trials: Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt) study

Statement by the German Pro-Rail Alliance

Forsa poll on longer HGVs and a proposal by Martin Burkert on limiting use of longer vehicles to the combined transport sector.