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Transportation

German desire for extra-long trucks falls short

One year after the start of field tests in Germany, the use of extra-long trailer trucks on selected highways is still facing an uphill battle. Pro-rail pressure groups have claimed the project is a failure.

The German pro-rail lobby group Allianz Pro Schiene on Friday branded field tests for "gigaliners" a complete failure - noting that only 36 extra-long trucks had been registered by 20 trucking companies taking part.

"With such a small participation, it's highly doubtful whether any scientific results stemming from the tests can really be called conclusive," the alliance's Managing Director Dirk Flege said in a statement, adding that only seven out of 16 German states had bothered to take part in the experiments.

Of the 36 registered vehicles, only 28 are actually taking part in the field tests, which will last for another four years on selected German autobahns and highways.

On January 1, 2012, the German Transport Ministry initiated field tests for extra-long trailer trucks. German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer has said that the use of such trucks could reduce congestion and cut costs for haulage firms.

Opponents claim that the downsides of the scheme eclipse the alleged reduction in trucking costs.

More costs than savings?

Allianz Pro Schiene claimed the use of such vehicles was dangerous and harmful to the environment. It criticized the federal government in Berlin for what it called an artificial expansion of routes on which gigaliners were allowed to travel, saying the network now encompassed 1,800 kilometers (1,118 miles).

Gigaliners must not weigh more than 40 metric tons and are not allowed to transport dangerous materials or liquids. But even so, the alliance said the extra-long trailer trucks had no future in the country.

They pointed to a number of issues, including traffic safety issues in a densely populated country and expected damage to roads, railroad crossings and bridges because of the trucks added weight.

hg/rc (AFP, SID)