Themen: Cargo
15. Dezember 2016

Final report on trials of longer HGVs: “sobering”

Highway Research Institute reckons on HGV price dumping of 26 percent

Mega truck at the cross roads, an everyday occurrence in Sweden. German transport minister Dobrindt wants to force through the unrestricted use of the 25-metre vehicles in Germany. The trials of the so-called Gigaliners ended with a sobering conclusion.
Mega truck at the cross roads, an everyday occurrence in Sweden. German transport minister Dobrindt wants to force through the unrestricted use of the 25-metre vehicles in Germany. The trials of the so-called Gigaliners ended with a sobering conclusion.

Berlin, December 15 2016. In comments on the Federal Highway Research Institute’s long-awaited final report on allowing the unrestricted use of longer vehicles, the German Pro-Rail Alliance has commented that the conclusions are “sobering”. “The trials of the so-called Gigaliners ends in two weeks and Germany has had to wait until now to see the final conclusions. Whoever now reads the report at the eleventh hour will be severely disappointed. It’s no wonder that federal transport minister Dobrindt would have rather left the report in a drawer somewhere,” said Dirk Flege, managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance, on Thursday in Berlin. Flege said it was positive that the report had at least made a clear reference to the expected price dumping in the HGV transport sector. “The Highway Research Institute confirmed that allowing mega trucks would make road freight transport 26 percent cheaper. In contrast, the issue of how much freight would as a consequence be shifted from the railways to the roads was not addressed in the report. However, although academic research, and practical experience in Sweden, have already provided the answers, the Highway Research Institute’s report on the Gigaliner trials does not even mention them in its list of references. Such a report can hardly be used as a basis for making intelligent transport policy.”

Gigaliner trials are still inconclusive

The Pro-Rail Alliance also argues that the trials do not allow reliable conclusions to be drawn about impact on the environment. “After looking at less than one in a thousand HGV journeys that were subjected to road tolls, the Highway Research Institute has certified that Gigaliners have a positive impact on the climate. This sample is not only ridiculously small, it is also completely irrelevant, which is worse. It does not consider the market shares of the three main modes of transport: inland waterways, HGVs and freight trains. It says even less about how these market shares will develop when faced with cheaper road freight.”

Above all, the Pro-Rail Alliance criticised the official conclusions that were based on very little data. “The final report, which was initially suppressed and has now been released on the quiet, shows just how inconclusive the trials were. The report lists 59 road haulage companies that registered 158 longer vehicles over the trials‘ five-year period. However, the Highway Research Institute did not even know how many of these vehicles were actually used. This has absolutely nothing to do with serious academic research,“ criticised Flege.

 

Final trial conclusions: longer trucks are dangerous, expensive and damage the environment

In the final days of the five-year trials of longer heavy goods vehicles on designated routes, the Pro-Rail Alliance verdict on the whole concept of longer vehicles is 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.