Next year could see the introduction of an increased weight allowance on Swedish roads for lorries. Moreover, Spain has announced similar intentions to enable lorries to have a higher permissible weight on their roads in a bid to increase its overall competitiveness within the European market.
The Swedish Government has suggested it may increase its maximum permissible load limit on its roads to 74 Tonnes to bring them inline with their Finnish neighbours.
The plan envisages the use of trucks in areas where transport via rail or ship is unfeasible. Consequently, a legislation amendment is scheduled for implementation by March 2017. According to the DSLV, it is unclear at this stage whether or not this approval will be granted on a general or regional level. The general consensus is that by allowing larger lorries on Swedish roads, more cargo can be transported via a single longer vehicle than having to send multiple vehicles. This saves not only fuel but also frees up an additional vehicle which can then be utilised elsewhere.
This concept has not only been envisaged in Sweden and Finland but is being routinely utilised in the Netherlands. A pilot study conducted there found that their use poses no greater safety concerns than standard artics. In Germany however the current opinion on the utilisation of larger lorries is a controversial one.
There are growing concerns that Germany’s Autobahns are becoming evermore clogged with truck traffic. As a result there are increasing attempts to shift traditional lorry bound shipments onto rail and where possible via sea. A number of federal states in Germany are conducting ongoing trials with vehicles known as Long-HGV’s; which have a length of 25m, approximately 6 metres longer than standard artics. However, at present it is unknown whether this set of pilot tests will be rolled out on a countrywide scale.
The Spanish Freight Forwarding & Logistics Association has also voiced an interest in allowing larger lorries onto its roads in the future. According to Joaquin Del Moral, the General Director of Spanish road transport within the ministry of transport there are plans to increase the maximum permissible weight of vehicles from 40 Tonnes to 44 Tonnes. It is hoped that by implementing this the Spanish transport industry will become more competitive.
One of the most common cited criticisms against the introduction of long HGV’s is where will it end? The current standard length for an artic is 16.5m, however there are also lorries with lengths of 18.75m and now 25.25m. With this in mind, what is lorry transport likely to look like in the foreseeable future? Will these vehicles be ever more commonplace and of even greater lengths?
In Sweden there are even forestry and paper industry lorries that measure up to 30 metres! One of the most pressing issues however lies within the current road infrastructures i.e: Motorway service stations, petrol stations, traffic junctions, crossings and bridges. Many of these are simply not designed for larger vehicles or higher weights. Also, the cost of having to redevelop the existing road network will cost billions of Euros.
At present all we can do is wait and see what the future holds.