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Too long and too heavy for roads and bridges

Highway infrastructure – roads, bridges, tunnels, crash barriers – were not designed for longer and heavier vehicles. Permitting mega trucks would lead to increased safety risks that would require  upgrades to infrastructure costing the taxpayer billions. The plan is a simple one – privatise the profits and leave society to cover the costs


A bottomless pit for taxpayers' money

Longer and heavier vehicles are not just a safety risk for road traffic, they will also be very expensive. Upgrading road infrastructure for LHVs would have to be paid for out of taxpayers' money. Not just roads – bridges, tunnels and parking facilities are also a part of the highway infrastructure and will have to be upgraded at great expense.

At the very least, LHVs will speed up road wear and send repair costs rocketing. However, road maintenance is already being neglected today because of a shortage of money, despite some fairly serious current road damage. The main cause of the damage is trucks, with heavy vehicles being responsible for a disproportionate amount of damage. For example: a 40 tonne truck damages the road 160,000 times more than a car.



Bridges will be most affected if longer and heavier vehicles are permitted. The German Transport Ministry has estimated that the most urgently required building measures on Germany's bridges resulting from the use of heavy goods vehicles over 40 tonnes would cost up to 8 billion euros. Cost estimates for other countries are not yet available. However, costs might turn out to be many times that figure, particularly in Eastern Europe.

HGV passing a bridge



With regards to the loading stress put on bridges, it must be assumed that a longer and heavier vehicles “could put a strain on the bridge in excess of its loading capacity”, according to the German Federal Environment Agency. What this really means is that mega trucks will reduce the service life of bridges. Not a few bridges will groan severely under the weight of a longer and heavier vehicle, with unforeseeable consequences for the construction. This will not only cost taxpayers' money, it will also be dangerous, because every vehicle simultaneously on a bridge has to be taken into consideration, whether in front of or behind the LHV, or coming in the opposite direction. The thought of two mega trucks meeting on a bridge is not a pleasant one.


Crash barriers

Today's crash barriers were not designed to withstand an accident involving a mega truck with a weight of 60 tonnes. Maintaining present safety levels on our roads would make it necessary to upgrade every crash barrier on the entire road network. A measure that the German Federal Research Institute also considers to be “economically not justifiable”.

Parking facilities

Parking spaces for heavy goods vehicles at service stations and other parking facilities are not large enough for Gigaliners. They were designed for trucks with a length of 18.75 metres, the maximum length of a conventional HGV. Mega trucks would be 6.5 metres longer. In order to accommodate longer and heavier vehicles, all of Europe's parking facilities would have to be upgraded.


Hidden costs

Nobody can say today just how high the real costs of longer and heavier trucks will be. However, one thing is for sure – mega trucks will cost billions. And who will have to pay for all these costs? The taxpayer, of course. The general public will be left to cover all the costs so that a few large road hauliers will be able to maximize their gains. In other words - privatise the profits and leave society to pick up the costs

This does not even take into account the so-called external costs. This is the term that experts use for all the costs that are result from traffic – such as costs resulting from accidents, noise, air pollution, climate change – but that are not directly covered by those responsible. These are the costs that have to be paid for by the general public in the form of taxes and health care contributions. The research institute INFRAS has calculated that in 2005, road freight transport resulted in external costs of more than 11.5 million euros in Germany. That amounts to 39 euros for every tonne-kilometre (tonnes x kilometre). By way of comparison: freight transport by the environmentally friendly and safe railways resulted in only a quarter of the costs for the same  transport quantity. If permitting Gigaliners leads to goods transport being shifted off the railways and onto the roads, the external costs of freight transport will rise. These are costs that we have to pay.

The fact is: if every mode of transport had to cover the costs for which it is responsible, the issue of mega trucks would quickly be forgotten.


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