Panel discussion about the amendments to the Combined Transport Directive

‘Do not allow for 44-tonne gross vehicle weight on German roads’

German associations have proposed to allow for 44-tonne gross vehicle weight on all German roads that are ‘the road leg of combined transport chains’. This is objected by lobby organisation UIRR. The permitted weight on the road leg is part of the ongoing discussions about an amended Combined Transport Directive.

The Combined Transport road legs were granted a 2/4-tonne additional gross vehicle weight allowance in European law. This is to compensate the additional equipment weight of intermodal transport, and, noting that Combined Transport road legs are minimal in length, the resulting heavier axles would not damage the roads excessively, explained UIRR. The organisation calls on transport policy-makers in Germany and elsewhere in Europe to reject the proposal, as it would undermine combined transport.


“The additional weight required by the intermodal technology means that in case the proposal was adopted the net cargo weight to be carried in Combined Transport would be less than on pure road transport. This is unacceptable as it would lead to a reverse modal shift from inherently safer non-road modes of transport to the road in the heaviest commodity category – including numerous dangerous goods shipments”, UIRR wrote.

Furthermore, the associations take no consideration of the exponentially increasing wear and tear that a 44-tonne gross weight HGV causes to the roads and bridges in case the 10 per cent higher weight would become the norm, the organisation states. “Nor are the logically ensuing higher road tolls mentioned in the paper.”


The Combined Transport Directive currently reviewed stems from 1992 and has never been amended. Therefore, it is unlikely to realise the objected modal shift. The European Commission has proposed amendments to the Directive and carried out several consultation exercises over the last four years. The Parliament delivered its feedback in May, and the Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN) of the European Parliament adopted the amendment in July this year. The next step towards completing the amendment must be taken by the European Council.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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