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Rail freight relief as European ministers reject international ‘mega trucks’

The decision by European transport ministers to reject the European Commission’s proposals to allow cross-border ‘mega trucks’ across Europe has been welcomed by the UK’s freight industry.

During the review of the lorry weights and dimensions directive 96/53 in Luxembourg, the ministers agreed that “provisions on cross border operations should remain as it is in the current legislation”.

Philippa Edmunds, manager of Freight on Rail, said: “International use of mega trucks could result in  more road fatalities, increased road congestion, pollution and road damage as well as undermining rail freight, the low carbon, energy efficient  and safer alternative.

“Even the European Commission admitted mega trucks were more dangerous than existing lorries. Once these bigger trucks were allowed in international traffic across Europe, they would come to the UK by default over time. It does not make sense to allow even bigger trucks when existing ones are driving around partially empty.”

The European Commission had called for mega trucks – vehicles up to 25 metres and 60 tonnes in weight – to be allowed to cross international borders in the EU. However, MEPs voted overwhelmingly to block further international use of mega trucks.

The Commission said: “The agreement by ministers waters down provisions to strengthen the enforcement to tackle the problem of overweight heavy goods vehicles – which cause road damage, are a risk to road safety and distort competition. The Commission hopes that with the backing of Parliament these provisions can be reinstated in the final negotiations.”

On 15 April, “the vast majority of EU parliamentarians voted against a Commission’s proposal for allowing cross-border journeys of mega trucks between neighbouring countries”, as the ‘No Mega Trucks’ campaign put it. “An admission of border crossing trips hidden in a seemingly harmless aerodynamic directive would have led to mega trucks in many EU countries. Now it is up to the EU Commission to conduct a proper impact assessment.”

Speaking to RTM, Maggie Simpson, executive director of the Rail Freight Group, said the decision by MEPs was extremely welcome and will, hopefully, help safeguard the rail freight industry.

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