Etude d'incidences équitable sur l'introduction des megatrucks 13/07/11

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The International Union of Combined Road-Rail Transport Companies (UIRR) represents operators of Combined Transport, the most dynamically growing segment of rail freight, to whom over a quarter of rail freight’s tonne-kilometres can be attributed already today.

UIRR has warmly welcomed the vision spelled out in the recently unveiled Transport White Paper of the European Commission, whereby it called for a shift of 30% of long-distance road-freight tonne-kilometres (over distances of 300km or more) to ecologically and economically sustainable modes by 2030, and 50% until 2050.

Following the logic of Combined Transport, which effectively inserts electric rail into pure road transport-chains, our organisation has steadily been calling for a comprehensive approach to placing European freight transport on a sustainable path, rather than a unimodal one.

Your comments, Mr Vice-President, made during your hearing in the European Parliament after having been nominated for Transport Commissioner reassured us that the Commission will not reach a conclusion in the highly controversial issue of authorising the Europe-wide circulation of longer-and-heavier commercial road vehicles without proper assessment. Yet recently it has come to our understanding that despite the inconclusive and debatable evidence turned up so far in favour of these oversized road vehicles, which some call megatrucks, DG MOVE, and your cabinet in particular, is momentarily considering rapid moves to ease the introduction of megatrucks into long-distance cross-border traffic.

UIRR remains convinced that the fundamental motivators of the European Commission’s transport policy remain valid being

  • Radical decreases in the number of road accidents, injuries and fatalities; and
  • Resolute reduction of Europe’s oil dependence and parallel with it the CO2 emissions of transport, which both are fundamentally attributable to road transport today.

The evidence that is available presently fails to convince us that the introduction of megatrucks into cross-border circulation within Europe would take us any closer to our common goals; quite the contrary – under the prevailing road-biased framework conditions – it is likely to further reinforce long-distance road transport, the very category which could most easily be replaced by sustainable modes like electric rail. The results of empirical modelling available to UIRR suggest that the introduction of 25m-long megatrucks would cause considerable reverse modal-shift returning loads to road, which were painstakingly conquered by environmentally friendlier modes in the past decade. Moreover, considerable portion of these shifts benefited initially from the financial aid of the European Union extended through the Marco Polo Program.

Hoping that based on the above arguments you will reconfirm your commitment to conducting a thorough impact assessment prior to any decision which would lead in the direction of permitting the wider-scale cross-border circulation of megatrucks in Europe, I remain, Monsieur le Vice-President, Dear Mr. Kallas,