Mega trucks: Are they here to stay? A threat to intermodality?

Author: Xavier Lluch

Mega trucks introduce some interesting new possibilities in European transportation, being able to transport more cargo with a significant reduction to cost & CO2 emissions: According to different sources, the reduction, per Tn transported, could be

–          10-15% CO2 emissions

–          25-40% on total transport costs

As it happens with the introduction of new technologies, they are often criticised by those who fear new competition. Mega trucks are not an exception, and they have been deemed responsible for an increase of accidents and increase in road maintenance costs, as well as increasing road congestion. Some other stakeholders claim that the introduction of mega trucks poses a new difficulty to intermodal transport, fearing that a more competitive road service shall diminish the advantage of all intermodal systems.

Mega trucks have begun circulating several years ago in a few European countries, and the experience proves that there is no significant increase in accidents, nor in higher road maintenance costs. With regard to traffic management, they don’t seem to represent a major problem once drivers get used to their presence on major roads.

Mega trucks have also become the object of criticism from transport operators,

-Trucking companies who may see them as a thread in regards to those who could not afford or adapt its fleet, thus loosing competitiveness.

-Union representatives who may see in these increased capacity units a thread to driver’s employment.

A significant resistance to mega trucks is also coming from inter-modal operators, fearing that the increased productivity of the new units may endanger the competitiveness of the intermodal system.

The introduction of more efficient transport technologies should only be welcomed, and the other means of transport should only try to improve their own performance. Protectionism has long been the rule in rail transport and we can see today the poor results and how it limits the efficiency of rail-road intermodality.