Germany rumoured to be ready to approve ‘Megatrucks’

A report on the Loadstar news service has suggested that the German government is moving towards the approval of ‘longer heavier vehicles’ or ‘Megatrucks’ in Germany. It is believed that Alexander Dobrindt, the German Federal Minister of Transport has indicated that authorisation will be given to the movement of larger vehicles across regional borders.

For approximately eight years, most German regional governments have allowed ‘experimental’ use of very large trucks within their areas yet this has been opposed, or at least not supported by the federal government.

The attractions of such larger vehicles are obvious. The large ‘less than trailer load’ networks would reap a particular benefit as they could deploy higher capacity trailers on their trunking routes between regional depots.

The size of the vehicles concerned varies, however most of the activity in Germany uses trailer and tractor combinations of 25.5 m long and generally of 50-55 tonnes, although certain proposed combinations can be as heavy as 60 tonnes. This represents a substantial increase on the 44 tonne limit generally in force in most European countries. It is complicated by ‘Megatrucks’ either being a combination of a standard semi-trailer and a draw-bar trailer, or simply a longer trailer.

Some of the most vociferous opposition to ‘Megatrucks’ has been from the railways, who perceive a serious threat to both their conventional freight as well as their intermodal operations. This is supported by trade unions associated with the railways and various ‘green’ parties.

The irony is that Deutsche Bahn, which has strongly resisted the rise of the ‘Megatruck’ owns Schenker, which is one of Europe’s largest LTL operators and an advocate of ‘Megatrucks’.

If, as looks likely, Germany approves ‘Megatrucks’ on a national scale it will signal a significant change in the economics of road freight in Central and Northern Europe. The Netherlands and Denmark already have de facto approval of these vehicles whilst Sweden has been using such trucks for many years. There was a vigorous debate over their introduction in Poland and the German decision may affect the situation there. The result may be a boost to the efficiencies of road freight networks.

Source: Transport Intelligence, November 25th, 2016

Author: Thomas Cullen