Monstertrucks versus Greenliners
How what you call a High Capacity Transportation (HCT) makes a difference when advocating longer and heavier trucks through Scandinavia and Northern Germany. The name of the truck is a significant, yet small problem. The technical requirements and framework conditions of Sweden, Denmark and Germany being so different that crossing borders with HCT is troublesome: That is a major issue.

The Green STRING Corridor project gathered almost 40 experts to discuss the possibilities and challenges of High Capacity Transportation within the STRING region (Scania in the north to Hamburg in the South). The workshop was held at Malmö's famous landmark "Turning Torso".


With the European Union's Internal Market, surely transport of goods by truck is free and unrestrained? In theory perhaps, in practice not so much. Even within a closely knitted market between Scandinavia and Germany with large flows of goods crossing the borders every day, there are almost comical examples of companies having to reload trucks to meet standards on the other side of the border, when using longer and heavier trucks vehicles.


Such an example is Carlsberg. Probably the best beer in the world, as the catchphrase goes. When coming from the brewery in Fredericia with beer for the cheap border shops (yes, the irony is thick) in Northern Germany, every day 30 to 50 loads have to be unloaded and reloaded to meet the German weight requirements. This means taking 20 tonnes of the trucks from 60 to 40 tonnes and driving across the last five kilometers across the border to Germany.

htc deltagere


The opportunities of using longer and stronger trucks are evident: Transporting more freight for less fuel/CO2 per kilometer and reduce the number of trucks on the already overcrowded highways. The trend is widely applied in Scandinavia with Finland and Sweden and even in Denmark - although with different technical requirements and standards. The Finnish and Swedish being forerunners with a practical incentive from the timber industry in both countries wishing to transport long pieces of timber. In Sweden e.g. you are allowed to drive vehicles with length of below 25,25 meter and maximal weight of 60 tones since 1995 on all main roads.


No go in Germany


Maybe the biggest challenge for the STRING corridor is the situations in Germany, where HCT is not quite so popular or accepted as it is in Sweden and Denmark. Here, a major issue is different regulations not only between Germany, Denmark and Sweden, but also within the different states in Germany.  The different technical requirements and regulations on HCT, within the European Union, makes cross border traffic in the STRING corridor complicated. 


A 'minimum' standard, e.g. length, weight, configuration, performance, etc., could allow companies to run HCT's along the STRING corridor. Furthermore, there are differences in the implementation stages of HCT solutions within the regions and states in the European Union. So clearly a concrete implementation strategy for HCT within the European Union is needed, but it was mentioned that there is a lack of concrete transport data and knowledge about HCT performance before member countries could agree on such a strategy.

 Critic on EU targets to move freight from road to rail, that this is not based on performance, CO2 emission or energy consumption - ''A truck Euro 6 - is always better than coal based electricity or diesel train.'


Slow authorities


Participants of this meeting seemed to agree that the responsible authorities are not proactive enough and only acting after a political decision, e.g. dealing mainly with national but not international implementations.  Currently, transport operators that want to drive with HCT vehicles are limited to a very small network for HCT in the EU.


However, the practical implementation of HCT transportation shows that in Sweden they needed to implement a system that controls the vehicles that drive on the route, which meant higher safety standards for new trucks and increase control of their driving behaviour and hence an improved traffic control for the road sector.


The HCT solution also improves infrastructure utilisation through optimal use of capacity on the road.  With 'Less trucks and less emissions', current HCT pilots also show large potential for CO2-reductions and lower energy consumption.


Off course HCT is not the only solution to solve the immense competition in the Northern Germany - Scandinavia corridor but it is a chance to develop and implement new business models that focus on improving transport performance on collaboration and consolidation between companies.


With a development of differentiated road pricing, the benefits and opportunities for the HCT's would be more obvious and if we cannot agree on equal rules or legislation, at least the performance of the vehicle will be relevant.


From the interest shown among the participants it is clear that this issue will continue to be discussed in the future, and there is a need for active dialogue if smooth cross border transports with heavier and longer trucks are to be allowed instead of time consuming reloading of goods at the border. The Green STRING Corridor is coming to an end but the people behind the project managed to gather interested parties of three countries and with this new established network of companies, academia and public authorities, the stage has been set for further cooperation.


By Anine Asklund. Marianne Jacobsen & Sandrina Lohse