As Environmental Concerns Grow, German Rail Groups Rally Against Extension of Long Truck Licenses

Rail freight organizations in Germany are opposing the proposed extension of licenses for long lorries till 2026, citing that they will be preferred over rail freight and add to the already bleak hopes for the environment. Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport is currently contemplating whether to extend the registration of Type 1 long trucks, articulated vehicles with a maximum length of 17.88 meters on the road. The license will expire as CY 2023 ends.

Four associations, including Allianz Pro Schiene, “Die Güterbahnen”, VDV, and VPI, are actively opposing this proposal and are advocating for the approval of these extended semi-trailers to expire at the end of the year, as initially planned.

These organizations, in a joint press release, said that the extension negates the objectives of Germany’s Transport Policy. The Policy works towards transferring a major chunk of cargo movement from road to environmentally and climate-friendly rail, increasing its market share to at least 25% by 2030.

A substantial concern is the incompatibility of Type 1 long trucks with combined transport (CT). Combined transport involves transporting loading units, such as containers or semi-trailers, by road to a transshipment station and then transferring them to rail for long-distance transportation. This approach is more environmentally and climate-friendly than long-distance truck transport. However, Type 1 long lorries are too long for this efficient loading and transfer process.

The press release underscores that conventional semi-trailers with a length of 13.60 meters are standard throughout Europe and can easily be employed in combined road-rail transport. The approval of Type 1 long trucks not only undermines the thousands of railway wagons designed for standard semi-trailers but also contradicts the standardization efforts in combined transport made in recent years.

The organizations propose that it is more appropriate for Germany to support the simplification of freight transport across Europe and allow the registration of Type 1 long trucks, set to expire at the end of 2023, to proceed as planned. Instead, the Federal Ministry of Transport should concentrate on ensuring the combined transport capability of other long truck types, especially Type 2-5, which often carry at least two loading units.