Special permits and reduced interior dimensions to solve Finland’s problem of over-wide lorries and trailersA solution is now in sight for the problem of the large widths of many Finnish modular lorry-trailer combinations. Certain types of vehicles will be able to obtain special permits that are valid for a year at a time. And by reducing the interior dimensions of their cargo spaces, vehicles and combinations with 2.60 metre wide load platforms can still be used for another three years from the end of this year.
Finland's Cabinet Committee on European Union Affairs decided in favour of a system of special permits and width reductions on June 2. The Government intends to introduce a corresponding bill in Parliament this month.
Special permits will be granted for vehicles over 22 metres long which are used for carrying peat, woodchips, logs or animals.
The permits will be for individual vehicles and valid for a maximum of one year at a time. They will also be restricted to the particular geographical areas of operation involved in each case. A higher fee will be charged for the permits, and the amount involved will be decided later on by the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
In addition to special permits, the Cabinet Committee also favours allowing over-wide lorry-trailer combinations that operate on a modular concept to continue to be used to the end of 2009, on condition that their internal dimensions are reduced. To make it easier to control that this condition has been fulfilled, the reduction must be clearly marked on the outside of the vehicles and trailers involved.
Such modular vehicles and combinations with an external width of 2.6 metres must have their internal dimensions reduced so that the width corresponds to the internal width of a 2.55 metre wide vehicle, which is at most 2.51 metres. This reduction must be carried out before the end of the year.
"The fact that the transition time is coming to an end is no surprise to anyone;" said Susanna Huovinen, Finland's Minister of Transport and Communications, when she put the matter to the Cabinet Committee. "But nevertheless, and particularly in view of the appeals made by those involved in this sector, I thought it was necessary for the Government to consider once again whether a reasonable solution could be found."
According to the EU directive concerned, vehicle-trailer combinations operating on a modular concept that are over 22 metres long are not allowed to have a width exceeding 2.55 metres. The use of 2.60 metre wide modular combinations has been permitted in Finland for a ten-year transition period that expires at the end of this year.
The three-year extension period for vehicles with reduced interiors is thought to be necessary for the transport sector to solve the problem of excessive widths.
In Finland, there are about 2,500-3,000 long lorry-trailer combinations with widths of 2.60 metres that fall within the scope of the EU directive, and about a thousand swap units.
Mr Perttu Puro, State Secretary, tel. +358 9 160 28325 or +358 40 779 3436
Mr Harri Cavén, Director-General, tel. +358 9 160 28500 or +358 400 607 848
Mr Reino Lampinen, Deputy Director-General, tel. +358 9 160 28639 or +358 50 515 1303