From 31 August 2023, Swedish hauliers can prepare to make changes to their vehicle fleets that increase profitability and reduce climate impact. Previously, the maximum limit for trucks driving on Swedish roads was 25.25 metres, but now the maximum limit has been increased to 34.5 metres.
Over the last 10 years, the number of transports on the Swedish road network has increased by 10 percent. In 2022, 3.55 billion kilometres were driven by Swedish-registered trucks, an increase of 6% from the previous year. The figures are clear: transport through Sweden is increasing every year and the same trend can be seen beyond Sweden’s borders.
We have previously written about the development of High Capacity Transport (HCT), where the industry and regulations are being revised to allow sustainable, efficient, and climate-smart transport solutions for the future.
During the 2022 Elmia Lastbil trade fair, the then-Minister for Infrastructure presented the decision to amend legislation to allow longer truck combinations from August 2023. A small change in the regulatory framework would have a major positive impact on the transport industry. With longer truck combinations, productivity, road safety, and the environment can be improved.
The transport industry is under severe pressure owing to demands for efficiency and an acute driver shortage, while also needing to deal with the green transition. By allowing longer truck combinations, all these challenges can be effectively addressed. Marcus Dahlsten, President of the Swedish Confederation of Transport Enterprises, spoke to Dagens Nyheter newspaper about the new regulations:
“On the one hand, it means that more goods per truck can transported, which leads to fewer climate emissions for every kilometre driven. But it will also be more profitable for hauliers. In addition, the industry has a major driver shortage, so it’s also positive for the supply of skills.”
According to the Swedish Transport Administration’s calculations, the change is expected to result in a reduction in emissions from heavy truck traffic by 4-6 percent. This is a promising development in terms of reducing the environmental impact of the freight transport sector, and it can help achieve sustainability and climate reduction goals.
It is important to note, however, that the first truck combination with these new dimensions is not yet possible at the time of writing. Only after 1 December will it be possible to drive trucks that measuring 34.5 metres. This is because all the roads on which these new HCT trucks will drive must first undergo an approval process from the Swedish Transport Administration. This process is crucial to ensure that the roads can handle the longer vehicle combinations safely and efficiently. In total, there are approx. 5,900 kilometres of national roads that could open on 1 December 2023. At present, the Swedish Transport Administration estimates that around 160 of Sweden’s 290 municipalities will be affected and which have roads that allow for this type of extended transport.
We welcome this amendment to the regulations since we have been engaged in projects seeking to promote High Capacity Transport (HCT) for many years, we know how well it works, and we are familiar with the positive impacts it has on transport efficiency. For many years, the EU has looked at Finland, which is at the forefront of HCT , where truck combinations measuring 34.5 metres and with a total weight of 76 tonnes have been permitted on the entire road network since 2019.