How is HCT developing in the Nordics and EU?

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The work to develop High Capacity Transport is ongoing in countries in the Nordic region and in the EU. Major investments are being made intro road networks as well as legislation to support the possibility of HCT.

High Capacity Transport in the Nordic region & EU

Great strides are now being made with High Capacity Transport (HCT) in the Nordics and EU. The Swedish government has decided to allow combinations up to 34.5 m from August 2023 and Norway is expanding its road network for 60-tonne combinations. Denmark has decided to start trials with DUO trailers up to 34 m from 2023/2024, and the EU will present the “EU Green Freight Package” in Q1 2023 with announced changes within the directive for dimensions & weight.

New legislation in Sweden

Sweden will allow combinations up to 34.5 m from August 2023. The government decision was made in August 2022 and the legislation will enter into force in August 2023. Before it becomes possible to operate the longer combinations, the Swedish Transport Administration is preparing the road network and the Swedish Transport Agency is preparing the technical legislation for the vehicle combinations to be used.

It is likely that in practice it will be possible to drive 34.5 m vehicles from 1 January 2024.

The Swedish Transport Administration analysis and preparation of the first 4,000 km includes:

  • Strategy for marking the road network
  • Interconnecting the ‘last mile’, which is usually municipal roads
  • Management of detour routes at stops on designated sections of road

Trials with longer combinations starting in Denmark

Denmark has decided to introduce trials with 32- and 34-metre combinations. Denmark calls the trial DUO2, and it is limited to Tractor + semi-trailer + dolly + semi-trailer combinations. The trial is being administered in the same way as the 25.25 m trial that has been ongoing since 2014, and now has just over 1,000 combinations in operation.

Requirements for driving a DUO2 combination will be:

  •  Three-axle tractor and at least 10 axles for the total combination:
  • 70 tonnes max. total weight
    • 71 tonnes with alternative fuel
    • 72 tonnes with zero emissions
  • 32 metres max. length for DUO2
    • 34 metres with aerodynamic cab or alternative fuel

Road network being developed in Norway

In Norway, trials are ongoing with 25.25- and 74-tonne timber transports. On 1 November 2022, a change was introduced on the BK8 road network (max. 8 tonnes/axle) which is granted, under certain conditions, for transports up to a total weight of 60 tonnes. The requirement is that the combination has 9 axles, at least 2 drive axles, double mounting on the trailer, and a distance of 19 m between the first and last axles.

Finland at the forefront

Finland remains at the forefront of HCT, and it is commonplace to have 34.5 m and 76-tonne combinations operating on the entire road network. The number of vehicle combinations that utilising the permitted length is steadily increasing.

What’s happening in the EU?

An update of the Council Directive 96/53/EC on vehicle dimensions and weights is included in the EU Green Freight Package to be presented Q1 2023. This package includes amendments to the Weight and Dimensions Directive, the Combined Transport Directive, the Train Drivers Directive, CountEmissions EU, and the Rail Freight Corridor Regulation.

The Council’s ambition is to accelerate the transition to Zero Emission and harmonise international cross-border traffic. The objective of the proposal seems to permit 25.25 m and 60-tonne combinations throughout the EU, provided the vehicle is Zero Emission or that the transport involves at least one change of several modes of transport (intermodal transport). We hope to be able to follow up on the outcome of the EU Green Freight Package in 2023.

What does EU 96/53 entail?

The directive on dimensions and weight, called Council Directive 96/53/EC, currently regulates combination lengths of 16.5m/18.75m and 40 tonnes.

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