4 July 2013: Huge double-articulated 25 metre mega trucks could become a common sight on Europe's roads.
The latest step in that direction has come from the EU, where bureaucrats have proposed that these vehicles be allowed to cross national borders between consenting countries. The very real threat is that this action will lead to mega trucks circulating across Europe by default over time in a domino effect.
Mega trucks are bigger, more dangerous and more polluting than existing HGVs. But once a few countries have mega trucks it will become harder for hauliers in countries which do not allow them to compete. There will then be lobbying to allow these massive vehicles on competition grounds.
Operators want mega trucks because they can reduce costs by up to 20 per cent. But this benefit to operators results in very significant costs to society. The European Commission's own research in January 2009 stated that mega trucks are individually more dangerous than standard HGVs because they are less manoeuvrable, meaning they are involved in more fatal collisions. They also lead to more pollution and more costs in maintaining and adapting road and other infrastruture.
Mega trucks could also worsen congestion. There introduction would undermine rail and result in trainloads of freight returning to our road network. As the heaviest UK train can remove up to 160 HGVs from our roads, this would have very real impacts. The promoters of mega trucks claim they will be restricted to motorways, dual carriageways and major roads. The reality is that these vehicles will need local road access to distribution hubs not on motorways/dual carriageways.
Whilst the UK Government says it will not allow mega trucks here, the reality is that it will come under huge pressure from the road haulage lobby. The UK has already buckled to pressure from the industry in allowing longer trailers. We need our Government and MEPs to say no to mega trucks not just on our roads, but across the continent as a whole.
For more details about Freight on Rail, visit the campaign's website.
Guest blog from Freight on Rail campaigner Philippa Edmunds
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