Sounds like U.S. officials aren't the only ones who think the answer to problems such as greenhouse gas pollution and congestion is to shift freight off of trucks.

In September, the big IAA Commercial vehicles Show will be held in Hanover, Germany. Put on by the German Automotive Industry Association, this show is so big, it has "pre-show" shows. At a recent press preview, Matthias Wissmann, the president of the association, noted that despite modern commercial vehicles' impressive eco-footprint, Wissmann said the European Commission had once again taken up "the long obsolete approach of shifting transport from one mode to another."

The idea in Brussels was that by 2030, 30% of all truck transports over 300 km should be moved to rail and waterborne transport.

Sound familiar?

"As all experts know, in the case of long transports the railways have potential that should be exploited even better," Wissman said. "But a total shift is the wrong approach. Anyone who believes that the railways and waterways can be fostered by putting unilateral burdens on road freight traffic is barking up the wrong tree. The efficiency of the transport system as a whole will suffer, and with it Europe as a business location. We therefore hope for a pragmatic, unbiased transport policy from Brussels."

Wissmann called for an intelligent European transport policy to encourage smart innovations in all modes of transport, and drew attention to the concept of the long truck: two longer trucks transport the same volume as three conventional trucks. This offered potential savings in fuel and CO2 of up to 30%.

The long truck was therefore a "true eco-truck," the VDA president underscored. Initial experience from a field trial in Germany showed that transport efficiency rises considerably. Wissmann added that the long truck could easily be used in conjunction with the rail network as a partner of the railways in intermodal transport.

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