Dear HVTT Forum subscribers,
It is about nine months since I wrote my last newsletter. Nine months, since we all globally experience the new way of life and the working due to COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, the situation here in Europe does not improved significantly over the time, perhaps the opposite. The time we bought very expensively during the first lockdown on the spring was somehow carelessly spend over the relaxed summer, and now at the beginning of winter many of the European countries find themselves in second hard lockdown. The only robust solution on the long-term horizon appears to be the mass vaccination which will start in coming weeks in many European states. So, I wish that in my next newsletter COVID-19 will not be a topic anymore and we can share again only the developments on the weather and Heavy Vehicle Transport Technology.
Speaking of weather, I must say it does not show any beauty of classical wintertime such as blue skies contrasting with snowy meadows of clear ice that can be of use for skating or ice hockey. The temperatures here in Netherlands, but also in entire Europe, are fairly mild and we got plenty of precipitation accompanied naturally with the grey sky.
Regardless the pandemic situation and poor weather conditions, there is luckily enough happening in the field of heavy vehicles and road freight transport in Europe.
In this newsletter I want to inform you on the recent developments regarding:
- The Project on Digital Exemption for Abnormal Transport in Sweden (co-authored with Sofia Ohnell, and Stan Wandel)
- The Pilot on Super Eco Combi (A-Double) here in the Netherlands (co-authored with Robbert Janssen)
- The Strategy on Smart and Sustainable Mobility (co-authored with Fuensanta Martinez) which was released recently by the European Commission.
This fall, a project on digitalization of the exemption process for abnormal transport has started in Sweden. The project aims primarily on vehicles, or combination of vehicles, that require special permission from one or more road owners, because the legal limits are exceeded from the perspective of weight, length, or width. Even though the exemption process nowadays is partly digitized and to certain extent harmonized between the government and the municipalities, the overall picture from the Swedish Transport Administration, municipalities, the Police Authority, and the business community suggest that there is significant potential for the improvement. Additionally, the project endeavours to answer the questions related the data quality and mainly the access to the data. The ultimate goal of the project is to increase transport system efficiency through utilization of abnormal vehicles (with permits) and the infrastructure in time and space to reach more sustainable society, which has lot in common with performance-based scheme we see more and more all around the world. Through the digitalization of the exemption process the carriers will benefit from faster and more flexible processing with increased predictability, on equal terms for healthy competition. For the infrastructure owners, it is about monitoring of the vehicles loading state and ensuring the infrastructure does not age faster than planned. The project also aims to investigate the overall needs of all the stakeholders, and jointly develop a conceptual design for the next generation´s digitalized exemption process though the project does not include implementation.
In my previous newsletter I informed you about the start of the pilot project in Netherlands which goes on trial deployment of Super Eco Combi vehicle combination (A-double). Since then, number of important steps were undertaken. At first, the entire portfolio of documents was created under the joint cooperation of the transport company, logistics branch organization, and research institutes. The portfolio is covering among others extensive risk analysis, operation protocol, and operational compliance study. In the risk analysis, the intended route between the cities of Venlo and Rotterdam is extensively studied and critical points, such as highway exits, or roundabouts are identified. Furthermore, it is indicated how does the vehicle combination comply with the road and all critical points using the high-fidelity simulations and the procedures are described on how to solve and/or mitigate risks. In September, the complete portfolio was submitted to the Dutch Vehicle Regulator, who studied the documents along with number other stakeholders such as National Road Authority, municipalities, or Police Authority. This led subsequently to the kick-off meeting where all stakeholders discussed the open points. Based on positive assessment of the portfolio of documents by Dutch Vehicle Regulator, the pilot could move to the next phase where the vehicle combination dynamic behaviour will be assessed on the dedicated test track according to the specific test program which is currently being designed. The physical tests are expected to take a place in the first quartal of 2021.
Lastly, I would like to share with you the summary on Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy which was released by the European Commission (EC) on the beginning of December. The strategy outlines the way how the EC wants to deal with upcoming challenges in the overall mobility domain. The strategy includes an action plan with 82 concrete initiatives and is accompanied by an Impact Assessment which provides the background for the Strategy proposed actions. The 82 initiatives of the action plan are directly linked to the 10 key areas for action (“flagships”) highlighted in the Strategy, each with concrete measures. If you are interested, you can find the complete list in attached document. Hereafter, I listed only four key areas of action which are closest to the road freight transport. They are structured in two clusters being:
For transport to become sustainable, in practice this means:
- Boosting the uptake of zero-emission vehicles, renewable & low-carbon fuels and related infrastructure – for instance by revising CO2 standards, proposing more stringent air pollutant standards, revising the weights and dimensions rules, adjusting roadworthiness legislative framework, promoting high performance tyres or revising the alternative fuels infrastructure directive (installing 3 million public charging points by 2030).
- Greening freight transport – for instance by doubling rail freight traffic by 2050 and by including the freight dimension through dedicated sustainable urban mobility plans.
- Pricing carbon and providing better incentives for users – for instance by pursuing a comprehensive set of measures to deliver fair and efficient pricing across all transport, revising the Energy Taxation Directive and establishing a European framework for the harmonised measurement of transport and logistics GHG emissions;
Innovation and digitalisation will shape how passengers and freight move around in the future if the right conditions are put in place. The strategy foresees:
- Making connected and automated multimodal mobility a reality – for instance by making it possible for passengers to buy tickets for multimodal journeys and freight to seamlessly switch between transport modes.
Moreover, the Strategy sets 14 very challenging Milestones for years 2030, and 2050. Also here I listed only those I find to be the most related to the road freight transport:
- By 2030, there will be at least 30 million zero-emission cars and 80 000 zero-emission lorries in operation.
- By 2050, nearly all cars, vans, buses as well as new heavy-duty vehicles will be zero-emission.
- By 2030, rail and waterborne-based intermodal transport will be able to compete on equal footing with road-only transport
- By 2030, automated mobility will be deployed on large scale.
- A multimodal Trans-European Transport Network equipped for sustainable and smart transport with high-speed connectivity will be operational by 2030 for the core network, and by 2050 for the comprehensive network.
- By 2050, the death toll for all modes of transport in the EU will be close to zero.
To conclude the newsletter, I wish you all very Happy Christmas Holiday and all the best in coming year, this time more than ever the health! Happy New Year! Feliz Año Nuevo! 新年快乐 ! Bonne Année!
Vice President – Europe