Road trains or longer combination vehicles (LCVs) is an effective method to increase the shipment size in road transport. In the concept one traction unit pulls two or more trailers. This enables companies to reduce operation costs (only one driver is needed) but also have proven to increase energy efficiency of transport. Per liter diesel up to 40% more cargo can be shipped.
Usage of road trains is already common practice in remote locations in Australia, the United States, Canada, Sweden and Finland, where it is used for transporting bulk cargo over long distances without alternative available modes of transport. Since 2010, LCVs have been used in more urban environments in Western Europe. Currently, the vehicles are allowed in the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway. In Germany and Belgium currently tests are performed with LCVs.
Road trains can consist of different configurations, An overview is presented in the following figure. The configurations consists most commonly of a towing unit with an attached trailer, after which multiple trailers of different sizes can be coupled. In remote areas in Australia (nonpublic roads) this can extend to configuration K, in which six semi-trailers are attached to one towing unit.
Not all configurations are allowed on public roads. Most countries allowing LCVs only allow configurations A to D. Configurations A and C, in which two trailers are used, are most common in Europe. In these countries, LCVs are only allowed on fixed routes.
Main perceived drawback of LCVs on public roads is the weight of the vehicle combination. This has effect on the wear and tear of road infrastructure, especially in the case of bridges.
As stated, road trains are common practice in remote areas in Australia, Canada, the United States, Sweden and Finland.
Throughout the United States, vehicles are allowed that combine two 28 feet trailers. Longer than 60 feet trucks are allowed in 14 states only.
In Europe, large scale tests with LCVs on public roads were performed in the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway between 2007 and 2011. Since then, LCVs have become common practice for domestic transport. In the Netherlands over 1,000 vehicles are operating.
In Germany and Belgium, currently large scale tests with LCVs are being performed.
Main benefits of LCVs are:
LCVs can both be implemented in remote areas and (in smaller combinations) on public roads. Usage of LCVs are favorable for longer distance transport and can act as a good alternative for areas where other transport modes (rail and IWT) are not available.
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