Effects of longer trucks and freight trains in an international corridor between Sweden and Germany

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The effects of enabling use of longer road vehicle combinations and/or longer trains in an intermodal freight corridor that extends from central Sweden to the Ruhr area in Germany are studied. For the time being the transports are designed based on the smallest vehicle dimensions: 18.75 m for trucks in Germany (compared to 25.25 m in Sweden and Denmark) 650 m for trains in Sweden (compared to at least 750 m in Denmark and Germany). The question is whether/or how the transport system can be enhanced by using longer vehicles for road transports, rail transports or both.

Ten scenarios are simulated with the help of the national freight model Samgods. The Road 1 scenario allows 25.25 m long trucks in the road corridor (including a ferry link via Travemünde) and assumes that the longer trucks can access the road corridor in Germany via terminals. In Rail 1 scenario it is assumed that 750 m long freight trains can be operated in the rail corridor that goes via the Öresund Bridge and Jutland/Denmark. In the Road 1 + Rail 1 scenario it is assumed that both longer trucks and longer trains can be used in the corridor. The effects on the freight flows (tonnes), tonne kilometres, logistics costs and CO2 emissions inside and outside Sweden are studied. The Road 2 scenario assumes that 25.25 m long trucks can access the road corridor in Germany via terminals and direct.

As expected, the rail tonne kilometres are reduced when longer trucks are allowed in the corridor and vice versa. The road ferry transports increase when it is possible to use long trucks, the total sea transports are however affected very marginally. The competition between rail and sea becomes clear when the trains are extended to 750 m in Rail 1 scenario (1000 m in Rail 2 scenario and 1500 m in Rail 3 scenario). , the exploitation of economies of scale for trucks and/or trains leads to reduced logistics costs. The benefits resulting from reduced CO2 emissions are estimated to be below one per cent of the benefits due to reduced logistics costs. In Road 1 scenario the decrease of the CO2 emissions due to the fact that the transports are carried out with larger road vehicles, is smaller than the increase of the emissions due to the transfer of goods transports from rail to road. The CO2 emissions from sea transports are expected to decline in all scenarios.

In the Rail 1 scenario benefits of about SEK 0.155 billion per year are calculated due to the reduction of the logistics costs and CO2 emissions. The infrastructure holder estimates that SEK 0.2 to 1.0 billion are required to upgrade meeting and bypass tracks to be able to operate 750 m long trains on the route between central Sweden and the Danish boarder. This means that the investments would be repaid after a time period estimated to be somewhere in the range of one to five years. Our rough calculations in the Road 1 + Rail 1 scenario indicate that the profitability of rail investments does not decrease if longer trucks and longer trains are simultaneously used in the corridor. Our calculations indicate the need for in-depth analyses of the missing cost-benefit components. On the cost side there are additional costs when heavier trains than today are used.

The Road 1 scenario, that does not require infrastructure investments in Sweden, is expected to lead to cost savings due to reduced logistics costs and CO2 emissions of about SEK 64 million per year. As for rail it needs to be clarified how different weight restrictions in the corridor affect the social benefits and costs. Thorough investigations should also include a detailed analysis of the sea transports that are complementary or competitive to the land transports.

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