Rail study on long trucks is more than misleading

European rail associations fear a loss of revenue if the EU Commission’s proposals to amend the directive on weights and measures in road freight transport become law. To support their concerns, they commissioned a study, as they did once before in 2015.

The background to this is that the EU Commission wants to make the cross-border transport of overlong vehicles between neighboring member states possible in the future without the need for a bilateral agreement – and without the restriction that only one border is crossed. This is one of the points of the “Fit for 55 package” with which the European Commission wants to ensure that the EU can reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030.

The freight transport associations DSLV and BGL disagree: According to DVZ, the “strategic approach of the Pro-Rail Alliance to play off the rail and road modes of transport against each other is ‘neither up-to-date nor expedient’.” This is no way to pursue transport policy in Germany.
In addition, the goods potentially transported by long trucks, such as bulk goods or general cargo, would not be transported by rail anyway.

WHEELS Logistics has been using long trucks for a long time. With optimal loading and capacity utilization, truck traffic can be significantly reduced, resulting in considerable CO2 savings.
This is also supported by a study by the LUBW State Institute for the Environment, Measurements and Nature Conservation Baden-W├╝rttemberg (on the initiative of the Ministry of Transport Baden-W├╝rttemberg) and Daimler AG.

This study provides a forecast for 2030 and the effects on overall freight transport in Germany if the entire federal trunk road network were to be opened up to long trucks. The following savings are forecast if freight transportation is shifted from conventional trucks to long trucks:
– Savings of 269 million vehicle kilometers
– Savings of 40.2 million liters of diesel fuel
– Savings of 113,428 tons of CO2e/a
– In relation to the journeys shifted to long trucks: -20% CO2e
– Based on the emissions of all trucks in Germany (= 46.8 million t CO2e): -0,24 %

Higher truck toll also finances rail
The railroads’ attack on the planned simplifications is not only incomprehensible from a technical point of view. A significant toll increase has been in force in Germany since December 2023. This will make driving on German freeways and federal highways significantly more expensive for heavy goods vehicles.

As a result, companies are hardly able to push through further price increases with their clients due to the already strong price pressure and inflation. Their competitiveness against foreign transport service providers continues to decline and there is no money for investments in the future.

However, the federal government expects the toll to generate billions in additional revenue. For the first time, this revenue will also flow to the railways. While half of the toll revenue will continue to be earmarked for improvements to federal trunk roads, the remainder is mainly planned for “measures in the area of federal rail routes”.

WHEELS Logistics advocates cooperation in order to meet the increasing demands of freight transport. Both road and rail have important services to offer here. Further, there is also an urgent need to reduce bureaucracy in the approval of long-distance routes. Investments can only be planned if they can be implemented within a reasonable time frame.


Nils Dietrich

Referent Unternehmenskommunikation