Smooth freight transport is essential for a modern and globally networked economy. Mobility and transport secure prosperity and jobs in Germany. Freight traffic growth in the coming years must be more sustainable and climate friendly. To this end, all modes of transport must continuously improve their efficiency: Infrastructure bottlenecks must be eliminated, modern traffic management systems deployed, and the transport modes even more closely networked. In addition, long trucks can make an important contribution on the roads. Since fewer trucks can transport the same volume, the burden on the highways and infrastructure is eased. Fuel consumption and thus CO2 emissions are also reduced.
Following a field test (2012-2016), long trucks are now being used in regular traffic on a specially approved and pre-defined route network in Germany. The vehicles in question have a length of up to 25.25 meters (27.6 yards) and a total weight of no more than 40 tons, or 44 tons in combined transport. In regular operation, two long trucks replace three conventional road trains, because a long truck can carry up to 50% more cargo by volume than a conventional truck.
Since long trucks in Germany do not have a higher total permissible weight than conventional trucks, they are mainly used to transport light but voluminous or bulky goods. This coincides with a large proportion of transportation on the road today: For around 80% of transportation, it is not the weight but the volume of the load that is the limiting factor. That is why today’s long trucks as well as the conventional truck both share the same total permissible vehicle weight of 40 tons. In combined transport, i.e., when trucks are used with ships or trains, up to 44 tons are also permitted for conventional trucks.
More load volume per individual truck means less fuel consumption and CO2 emissions per transport unit. Experience shows that long trucks can transport the same volume with 15 to 25% less fuel. And fears that transportation would migrate from rail to long trucks have not been confirmed. Rather, it is becoming clear that rail freight capacities will be in demand more than ever in the future. To this end, it is important to know that long trucks can also be used in combined transport. But from the consignors’ point of view, freight wagons and modular loading facilities must be further expanded and made more attractive.