Survey: combined transport versus trucks

Survey: combined transport versus trucks
© falco from Pixabay

A survey carried out in April in 9 Member States (FR, DE, BE, AT, IT, PL, HU, ES and RO) and based on 8,037 online interviews has revealed that "mega trucks" (European modular vehicle combinations) are largely unknown to the majority of respondents (14% recognised the problem, 34% had a vague idea and 52% admitted not knowing).

CER, ERFA, UIRR, UIP and UNIFE commented on the results of a recent survey which showed that the majority of European citizens questioned were not aware of the serious consequences that the introduction of 'gigaliners' or 'mega trucks' would have on the road network.

Respondents were unaware that these mega trucks raise a number of safety concerns and pose a significant risk to existing infrastructure. The vast majority consider that the promotion of combined road-rail transport is preferable in order to reduce road congestion and ensure higher safety standards.

UIP Secretary General Gilles Peterhans said: "As studies have shown, opening the door to cross-border traffic of longer and heavier trucks has a negative impact on road safety, infrastructure and the overall sustainability of European logistics.

Having been informed about the characteristics of these vehicles, the majority took a negative view of LHVs, expressing concerns about the impact on road infrastructure, congestion, road safety and noise. Nearly 85% recognised the safety risks that mega trucks can pose to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, as well as the impact on public budgets.

CER Executive Director Alberto Mazzola explained: "The results of this survey clearly show that European citizens, when informed about the impact of 'mega trucks' on EU roads, are concerned about the consequences both for their safety and for the environment. These citizens support safer, more efficient solutions such as combined transport, which can help to reduce road congestion.

75% of respondents believe that the introduction of mega trucks could reduce rail freight and in Member States where rail freight (including combined transport) is more established, 6 out of 10 citizens believe that these countries should not allow the circulation of mega trucks.

ERFA Secretary General Conor Feighan said: "This survey shows that there is a convergence between the concerns expressed by a large majority of EU citizens about longer and heavier trucks on EU roads and the opinion of the rail freight sector against the revision of the Weights and Dimensions Directive in its current form.

94% of respondents considered it important (for half of them very important) to promote combined transport as an alternative solution to the introduction of mega trucks, as this would significantly reduce congestion and safety risks.

UNIFE Acting Director General Klaus Mindel stated: "The results of this survey show that when this issue is made clear to European citizens, they are concerned about the potential consequences of the revised weights and dimensions directive.

The presidents of these organisations also pointed out that:

  • rail is 9 times more CO2-efficient than road transport
  • rail is 7 times more energy-efficient than road transport. This is of critical importance at a time when Europe is dependent on outside supply for 58% of its energy needs
  • one locomotive driver can replace up to 40 lorry drivers – a significant advantage considering the severe shortage of lorry drivers in Europe
  • rail makes use of the low-carbon energy produced within the EU, and with an increasing contribution from renewables and other sources of low-emission electricity, providing zero emission mobility for passengers and freight already today
  • European Rail Industry is a benchmark worldwide and strengthens the EU’s competitiveness and strategic autonomy on technology

UIRR President Ralf-Charley Schultze added: "In addition to the Commission's proposal to proliferate EMS lorries, which works against rail freight and modal shift as well as public opinion, it is also worth mentioning the 'salami tactic' encoded in the proposal on weights and dimensions, according to which bilateral agreements between Member States would be sufficient to allow the cross-border circulation of these longer and heavier lorries. This "mechanism", if left unchanged, would run completely counter to harmonisation in Europe and create a permanent state of uncertainty and threat that no EU Member State should allow".

Representatives of these organisations also urge EU Member States to avoid creating incentives that could hamper the modal shift to rail by allowing the cross-border circulation of mega trucks.

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