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  • Berlin approves megatrucks – but they’re banned in much of Germany

    The German government has approved the use of oversized lorries – known as ‘megatrucks’ or ‘gigaliners’ – for a five-year trial. But even if doubts about the decision’s legality are removed, the lorries will effectively be allowed in less than half the country, as some federal states have banned them.

    The trial is planned to begin early next year, and would allow lorries to be up to 25 metres long. But the existing maximum weight limit would remain at 44 tonnes, even though megatrucks can carry up to 60 tonnes. Furthermore, they would only be allowed to drive in some parts of the country as half of the German states, including Baden-Württemberg and Northrhine-Westphalia, have banned megatrucks. However, there are still enough states in the trial to allow for certain north-south and east-west transit routes.

    The upper house of the German parliament, the Bundesrat, recently adopted a resolution against federal trials, which casts doubt on their constitutional legality. The opposition SDP party has also threatened legal action against the Berlin government.

    T&E policy officer William Todts said: ‘Proponents of megatrucks highlight their supposed efficiency gains, but these are likely to be wiped out by a shift from rail to road and other effects. When you know that 3% of vehicles are responsible for 25% of transport emissions and are involved in 20% of fatal accidents, approving megatruck trials seems the wrong direction in which to go.’

    A study for the Community of European Railways suggests a Europe-wide adoption of megatrucks would cause a shift from rail to road, in some cases wiping out entire rail markets. The study says the overall effect would be to increase CO2 emissions, as the external costs of current standard lorries are four times higher than in single wagonload railfreight and five times higher than combined transport.
    For more information on the study: