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Ill-chosen incentives may fuel transit

Jul 12, 2021
More e-trucks instead of a shift to rail: a new EU directive could further fuel the burden of freight traffic through the Alps.
Image caption:
Shifting freight traffic to the rails: the Eurovignette currently under discussion is moving away from this goal. © Liberal Humanist, wikimedia commons

In mid-June 2021, negotiators of the European Council and the EU Parliament agreed on the design of a new toll in the form of the Eurovignette (the Infrastructure Charging Directive). The operating costs of battery and hydrogen-powered lorries could as a result be reduced by up to three quarters. Stephan Tischler, transport scientist and chairman of CIPRA Austria, takes a critical view of this: “The consequence of the new infrastructure costs directive would, under the guise of climate protection, be a massive reduction in the cost of transporting goods by road on e-trucks”. Every year, around 2.4 million trucks cross the Italian-Austrian Brenner Pass alone – twice as many as in 1998. With the new Eurovignette, the situation is likely to get even worse. The number of battery- or hydrogen-powered trucks is still vanishingly small, but Tischler expects a major increase in the coming years.

Under the Transport Protocol of the Alpine Convention, the Alpine countries and the European Union 30 years ago agreed to shift freight transport to the railways. A central goal of this agreement was the creation of market-based incentives and suitable infrastructures to ensure this shift could succeed. The new directive moves away from this goal, said Tischler. National CIPRA representatives have now sent open letters to their country’s representatives in the EU Parliament pointing out the problems of the new Eurovignette, which could be adopted as early as 2021.


Sources and further information: (de), (en), (de) (de), (de)