The development of road-rail CT largely depends on political and operational framework conditions, mostly established by the Community and national authorities. And because of its essential contribution to the fall in external costs (accidents, pollution …) caused by the transport of freight as a whole, transport policy has been lending support to the promotion of CT since the early stages of this specific technique. Moreover, a series of measures must compensate for the disadvantages inherent to CT, such as transhipment costs.µ
Exemption from road taxes
According to EU Directive 92/106, road vehicles that are predominantly used in initial or final carriage in CT are to be completely or partially exempt from road taxes. This way, the imposition of excessive infrastructure taxes on such transport is avoided, as a user fee already has to be paid for the rail infrastructure in combined transport. Moreover, these vehicles usually cover short stretches of road and only carry out the road positioning legs: CT is released from any quotas and authorisation.
Exemption from traffic prohibitions
Rail transport can also take place at weekends and on national holidays without restriction, whereas road vehicles are subject to traffic prohibitions at these times. In order to use this advantage of rail transport, road vehicles that are only used in the relatively short initial or final carriage sections connecting with rail transport are exempt from weekend and national holiday traffic prohibitions.
Increased total weight
Because of the use of intermodal transport containers, the road vehicles used in Combined Transport are heavier than trucks with fixed structures. Therefore logistics companies need to have the same payload as for dedicated road haulage if they want to convey heavy goods.
According to Directive 96/53/CEE (Article 3, Annexe 1), the possibility already exists of transporting by road 40' containers with a laden weight of 44 tonnes in the initial or final carriage connecting with rail transport, also in those countries where 40 tonnes is the usual maximum weight.
Extension of promotional measures
Particularly because of its environmental advantages, the European Union has authorised its Member States to provide financial support for railway transport, and more especially for road-rail CT. However, these promotional measures have to be submitted to the Commission for approval. When Member States allocate subsidies to operational activities, the UIRR companies prefer to receive these directly in order to have their customers benefit fully from the amounts concerned, instead of this form of promotion being allocated to RUs, as the traction prices of several of them are often not transparent, which makes the choice of traction provider more difficult.
There is a trend currently in Europe towards the introduction of taxes on trucks (for example the “Maut” in Germany) calculated on the basis of the distance covered and the type of truck (EURO standards and number of axles). This applies above all to the motorways and major trunk roads.