German Transport Minister Approves Mega Trucks Over Opposition
Rail Lobby, Environmental Activists Oppose Move
Large commercial trucks, categorized as Class-8 in North America, are an integral part of the commercial lifeblood of the country, delivering nearly every good on store shelves to its final destination at some point. Even Europe, with its expansive rail network, still relies heavily on over-the-road trucks. Much to the chagrin of some environmental activists and the rail industry, German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt is lifting the restriction on so-called double-trailer “mega trucks” more than 82.84 feet (25.25 meters) long, Deutsche Welle reports. The approval of the trucks came after five years of study and research, the Transport Minister claimed.
Opponents of the move cite similar moves in Sweden, which saw a significant shift from rail to road transport after allowing the supersized trucks. Others claim the move will put Germany in conflict with European Union regulations. Critics claim the longer trucks will require re-engineering of some on-ramps and off-ramps in the highway system and may cause congestion issues in towns and urban areas. Although the trucks are not officially permitted to operate in-town, highway closures and detours could force them into unpermitted areas.
However, opposition from environmental groups is not unanimous. Kirsten Lühmann, transport policy spokesperson for Germany’s center-left Social Democratic Party, said the mega-trucks represent a more economical and flexible option than rail transport in some cases. Rail freight operators usually require a full load, whereas the mega-trucks are better-suited to smaller quantities of low-density, relatively lightweight cargo such as home appliances than rail freight.