The introduction of longer and/or heavier lorries (LHLs) on the major European road network is not acceptable under current haulage market conditions.
Consideration would only be acceptable if all of the following requirements are first met:
- Road user charges that internalise all infrastructure and external costs must be
introduced before the introduction of LHLs can be considered. As a first step, the Eurovignette Directive should be modified so that external costs can be included in road charges.
- Any change of the rules must be accompanied by stricter and more frequent enforcement to ensure that LHLs do not use inappropriate roads, are not overloaded, loads are correctly secured, and road haulage regulations are strictly adhered to.
- Thorough ex-ante impact assessments must be carried out on infrastructure sections, particularly bridges, tunnels and access roads, which may require adaptation, widening or reinforcement before longer and heavier vehicles can safely be permitted. These costs must be taken into account in cost-benefit analyses and the cost of infrastructure adaptations should be passed on in LHL road charges;
- If the previous requirements are met, the permitted weight should be a maximum of 50 tonnes. This weight limit retains the potential for environmental gains while minimising safety impacts and the effect on the competitive position of intermodal transport.
- LHL equipment should be fully compatible with that currently used to transfer or transport freight using alternative modes.