European Parliament votes on Combined Transport Directive

The Transport and Tourism Committee (TRAN) of the European Parliament has adopted the amendment of the Combined Transport Directive. Specifications regarding the road leg, as well as other points have been altered. The EU legislation encourages the shift from long distance road transport to long distance rail, inland waterways and maritime transport through economic incentives, but in its current form its scope is limited. 

A decisive majority of the TRAN Committee adopted the compromises developed under the coordination of rapporteur Daniela Aiuto in a vote on Wednesday 11 July. The next step towards completing the amendment must be taken by the European Council, and specifically the Austrian Presidency, lobby organisation UIRR explained. “UIRR will continue to support the European legislators to enact the amendment by April 2019.”

Road leg

The fixed distance of a combined transport road leg (the distance covered per road) will be 150 kilometre, within which operators will be free to use the terminals of their choice. Moreover, the maximum allowed fixed distance may be exceeded – with due justification in case of road-rail combined transport – to reach the nearest terminal offering the required services to deal with the cargo shipped and the type of loading unit used.

The distance of the road leg has been a major point of discussion. The European Commission has proposed to increase the distance of the road leg permitted, in order to extend its scope of support for combined transport. Discussions involved the mechanism detailing how this threshold may be exceeded.

Other changes

Other alterations include the safeguarding of the equivalent legal status of ‘international road haulage’ and ‘international combined transport operation’ – some Member States had proposed to abolish this equivalence – as well as the rule that member States should offer incentives to invest in terminal capacities and at least one additional aid measure to combined transport operations.

Furthermore, some evidence if not available during a roadside check conducted as part of enforcement can be presented within five working days to the relevant authorities, and semi-trailers, when used as intermodal loading units in unaccompanied combined transport, may be positioned using road vehicle combinations with a gross weight up to 44 tonnes.


Stemming from 1992 and without any prior amendment, the Combined Transport Directive is outdated and 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.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

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

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