Germany′s mega-truck project off to a slow start | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 26.04.2012
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Germany's mega-truck project off to a slow start

Germany's Transport Ministry has said it's still sticking to a planned series of trials that would test the manageability of extra-long trucks on roads and highways. But opposition to the project just won't die down.

Six trucking companies have agreed to take part in a five-year test of extra-long trucks on domestic roads and highways, the Germany's Federal Agency for Road Infrastructure (BAst) reported on Thursday. A series of trials involving the over 25-meter-long (82-foot-long) gigaliners is meant to establish just how efficient such vehicles would be and what adjustments would have to be made to the current infrastructure.

A senior official from the German Transport Ministry announced after a meeting with regional experts and truckers on Thursday that scores of additional companies would in principle stand ready to join the test phase.

One of only four German truckers which already has gigaliners out on the roads reported that initial tests showed a 33-percent reduction in fuel costs and carbon dioxide emissions in comparison to conventional vehicles.

Getting off to a slow start

The Christian Democrat federal transport minister, Peter Ramsauer, who forced the project through a meeting of state ministers of last year without parliamentary support, had been hoping for up to 400 participants. However, German states governed by Social Democrats and Greens have refused to play along.

Opponents of the project said that with so many repairs on highways and ordinary roads, coupled with frequent traffic jams, gigaliners were bound to ruin the national infrastructure. They also pointed out that huge costs would be involved to adjust roadside trailer parks to accommodate the extra-long trucks.

Environmentalists added that gigaliners would not encourage the transfer of freight to the railroads. Nonetheless, the Transport Ministry insists that trials will start seriously towards the end of this year, by which time a critical mass of at least 100 participants will have been reached.

hg/mll (Reuters, dapd)