Benefits of EMS
All modes of transport should strive for efficiency, as clearly stated by the 2006 Commission’s Mid Term Review of the White Paper on Transport Policy (principle of co-modality).
The use of the modular concept in the EU results in increased efficiency of transport in general and road transport in particular. Indeed, based on standard modules, it gives high flexibility to adapt the vehicles to different situations, and offers the possibility to use long combinations when possible and shorter combinations when necessary. As it is based on existing equipment (vehicles and load units), it is easy to implement and very easy to rearrange to shorter combinations and adapt to local conditions: it means making a better use of what we already have.
The use of longer trucks has positive effects on the environment, and this was indeed one of the reasons why the EU allowed Sweden and Finland to maintain longer trucks while joining the EU in 1995. Another reason was that the introduction of the “modular concept” enabled foreign transporters to compete on equal terms. The long-date use of longer trucks has not prevented rail transport in Sweden from developing and holding the highest share of goods transport compared to the rest of the EU. In other Member States currently using the concept, the positive effects on the environment have been confirmed, and contrary to a widespread perception, official statistics show that the use of longer trucks has a neutral or positive impact on road safety.
There is no evidence that allowing longer trucks on the roads would shift loads from rail to road: goods transported by road tend more to be higher value goods, whilst rail is more suited to lower value goods. Road and rail are complementary modes with limited areas of competition. The spread of the use of the modular concept will indeed promote further development of intermodal road-rail transport as the dimensions of the truck modules are fully compatible with those of the rail freight wagons.
Further promotion of the use of the modular concept throughout Europe will have an immediate positive effect on transport efficiency and on the environment. Such promotion will also support intermodality. By using existing standardized EU modules it will support the development of other transport modes (i.e. railways), as the use of modular concept will have a positive effect on the development of intermodal road-rail transport solutions.