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Road transport


An open letter to the Government requesting greater attention and development plans

Paolo Castiglia

As always, great concern is dominating the road transport sector. Unatras, the Association that represents most transport unions, expressed alarm at the lack of attention to the road transport sector shown by the overall principles contained in the 2016 Stability Law.

For this reason, the President of Unatras, Amedeo Genedani, sent an open letter to the Prime Minister Matteo Renzi as well as the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport Graziano Delrio. 

"Road haulage associations have agreed to many sacrifices with great sense of responsibility in order to rethink the road transport system around national strategic objectives such as transport and logistics reforms," the text reads in part. "Unatras – according to hauliers – has consistently requested a meeting with the competent Ministry in the last few months, in order to produce a constructive dialogue, but its requests have not been taken into account". 

The open letter sent to the Government expressed the category’s sentiments about not being able, financially speaking, to replace outdated vehicles with the latest products on the market due to a lack of institutional decrees guaranteeing a proper allocation of resources.

Unatras, in fact, claims that “revenues coming from savings on tax break on Euro 0 last year and Euro 1 and 2 this year, could facilitate placing additional resources in the sector, making it possible for transporters to face the challenges of the future”.

Furthermore, the Association defines as “important the policy aimed at favoring the transfer of some of the road transport on rail, although it still considers rather risky the idea of loading vehicles and goods on trains within distances of less than 350 km. In fact, the effect on short – medium hauls, even for consumer goods, would be detrimental in terms of price reduction”.

Additionally, as the letter underscores, the widespread feeling of dissatisfaction, which could prove to be difficult to manage, could have destabilizing consequences for public order, caused not only by the lingering economic downturn and special situations of crisis such as ILVA and Sistri, but also by a fragmented and irregular dialogue with the Ministry of Transport". Finally, Unatras goes back again on the essential role played by supervisory bodies in combating illegal cabotage and the need to intensify this fight.

But there isn’t just an atmosphere of protest in the air: six months from Transpotec, the road transport and logistics salon scheduled at VeronaFiere February 22 to 25, 2017, the main industry associations, representatives of the different supply chains, from infrastructure to users, met for an important in-depth discussion in a period marked, among other things, by an upswing in new truck registrations.

In general, what emerged was the close correlation between the sector’s development and opportunities for our Country’s economic growth, especially at a time when new services, such as e-commerce - up by 12% last year alone (source Ups) – place the road transport sector under the magnifying lens, as customers need to be reached everywhere, and provided some food for thought on the development of national logistics structures. In this situation of fast and radical changes, competitiveness depends much on effective logistics and quick reaction to changes, true facilitators for the technological development of the entire Country.

Moreover, the meeting turned the spotlight on a system that persists in working toward a full integration between vehicles and infrastructures, as well as enterprises and institutions. The result is a market leaning towards a smart philosophy, that could re-qualify the road transport sector after years of accusations about high costs and high environmental impact and that now, on the contrary, appears to be keen on cost savings and environmental awareness. In order to evolve, the mentality of the whole sector must change, going from a dominant logic of ownership to a dominant logic of service to the client.

So, while in Italy there’s a growing need to reduce both the environmental impact and costs of transport, focusing on the one hand on the renewal of the truck fleet - in the Euro 6 era 74% of trucks in Italy, according Unrae, is still Euro 4, - while on the other, there’s an equally growing need to focus on training, perhaps using incentives. Key initiatives in creating updated professionals, able to harness the potential of more and more technologically advanced vehicles, with features ranging from autonomous driving systems to computer monitoring and assistance programs.

Even infrastructures - roads, ports, railways, integrated transport hubs - are evolving: from a mere goods transit channel to service providers, able to assist road haulage companies in effectively using their networks, updating users in real time via social networks about the state of the traffic.

While the structural gaps that have so far have penalized parts of the Country, especially South and Central Italy, are being filled – restructuring, for example, railway tunnels in order to allow the passage of trains loaded with trailers – the main thrust relates to engines powered by alternative fuels, with new recharging stations for electric vehicles being currently installed. However, all these lines of development need a backing from the institutions, likewise engaged in changes in the name of greater efficiency.



2017, new Swiss road tolls  

From January 2017, new tariffs for the transit of heavy goods vehicles on Swiss roads will come into effect, an increase decided by the Federal Council last December 2015. After approval by the European Union, the Federal Office of Transport issued the new fees. The opening of the Gotthard railway tunnel pushes the Swiss Federal Government to further encourage a change, shifting the transport of freight from road to rail, acting on the Performance-related heavy vehicle charge LSVA. Therefore, starting January 2017 the increase will affect vehicles with Euro 3, Euro 4 and Euro 5 engines and the reductions so far granted to those with Euro 6 engine will be eliminated. The Federal Office of Transport updated to August 2016 all traffic forecasts on Swiss roads. By 2040, the volume of freight traffic will grow by 37 per cent to 37 billion tons-kilometers. Rail transport will increase by 45%, though road transport will still remain the dominant mode of transportation. "Although the planned road works will help to relieve congestion on single road sections, problems will persist on the whole road network",  adds the UFT. By 2025, investments amounting to 6.4 billion francs are planned, plus a further 6.5 billion francs for the national roads by 2030.


Driver Absence Form Abolished

Abolished the penalties for trucking companies not complying with obligation to carry the Driver Absence Form. This was finally clarified by a news letter issued by the Ministry of Interiors and dated September 1, 2016, which explains the application of the EU Regulation 165/2014 which, in the 34th Article states that Member States are not to impose on drivers the obligation to produce forms pertaining to their activities away from the vehicle. Subsequently, the European Commission has further issued some clarifications on the Regulation in question: the use of the control module is allowed, even recommended, but is no longer mandatory and therefore its absence cannot be sanctioned. As a result of these institutional changes, the Ministry of Interior specifies that filling up the control form is no longer required after the entry into force of the EU Regulation provisions. "The present news letter reiterates, therefore, the non-applicability of the sanctions already provided for by art. 9, paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Legislative Decree dated August 4, 2008, n. 144, without prejudice to the transport company to draw the reporting form, to be shown in a control tests on collaborative grounds to clarify any absence over twenty-eight days".

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