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21st April 1950, Page 42
21st April 1950
Page 42
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Page 42, 21st April 1950 — ROAD AANSPORT kINS GROUND
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INTERNATIONAL road transport is not a post-war phenomenon, although the damage caused during the war to most of the large European waterways and to the railways gave it a great.fillip when hostilities . ceased Long before 1939, many thousands of tons were carried annually between several European countries. The work was, however, circumscribed. The

traffic was largely specialized, such as vegetables, and delivery was normally just across the border. Services were also irregular, as competition with the railways and waterways was keen.

At the end of the war, everything favoured road transport. Most of the main European waterways were

obstructed by destroyed bridges and sunken barges, and the international railway system had disintegrated. Even after the main railway tracks had been repaired, there was an acute, shortage of locomotives and rolling stock for good S trains. A system for the international exchange of goods wagonslook some time to devise and even when it had been put into operation, only part

of the large demand for transport could be met. Road transport seized its opportunity and released countries in the heart of Europe from isolation. In this work, Dutch operators took a leading part, and they are now zarrYing by far the greater proportion of all goods

moved by road.from one part of Europe to another. . There were many difficulties to be overcome? Perhaps thOl.gre,ateit as to obtain fLe For manymonths,

liutch lorries had to carry in extra tanks enough fuel for the 1,125-mile round trip to Prague. a8

Road transport's recovery from the ravages of wa -was fax quicker than that of its competitors: It was, -of • Course, greatly -helped by -the presence -of large numbers of military vehicles that could be put to civilian uses. Holland's re-equipment was particularly speedy, because during the war the haulage industry sent a request by underground channels to the Dutch Government in London to order new vehicles—in . the first instance, " heavy " lorries—for delivery immediately after the war. The result was not ideal, but at least vehicles were forthcoming.

.The hauliers wanted 3-5-tonners, but, perhaps understandably, the Netherlands Purchasing Comthission interpreted " heavy " vehicles as 10-tonners, and ordered hundreds of Mack and Diamond-T lorries in the U.S.A. When they arrived in Holland they were found to be too large and costly to operate on internal services, and were too high for easy loading. They could, however, be employed on international routes and some were purchased by hauliers engaged in this traffic.

Although they are not the most economic, vehicles Operated on inter-state services from Holland are now mainly of Mack, Diamond-T and International makes. This choice is probably only temporary, for most hauliers favour oilers for journeys of more than 3(X.1 miles. They prefer German and Frenchmachines, or the Dutch-built Kromhout, although this is rather expensive. Dutch operators recognize the merits of British oilers, but the ease with which spare parts can be obtained for Continental makes at present weighs in their favour. If British manufacturers could guarantee a speedy service of spares in any part Of Europe, their chances would be much improved.

'Soon regular services were being operated to Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, east and west Germany, Poland and Scandinavia. All long-distance routes run through (..ermany and at first this caused many problems ; Robberies were frequent and, for protection, vehicles had often to be driven in convoys By agreement with the countries concerned, :vehicles were sealed by Customs in the country cif origin, which afforded greater safety for loads. The occupation authorities in Germany did all they could to restore normal conditions.

Apart from the numerous regulations and currency restrictions, there are'now no special difficulties in international operation. Drivers find it almost as easy to drive from Amsterdam to Vienna as from Amsterdam to Rotterdam—only it takes a little longer. They have regular accommodation for meals and rest, and in some German towns there are roadhouses, with parks, similar to those used by: lOrry drivers in Britain.

The 10-ton lorries, towing 10-ton trailers, -are usually _manned by two drivers Although the crews have no regular hoth.s, they are not being overworked, as they so often were before the war. A driver's pay averages 46-48 guilders (£4 is.) a week, which is a little more

than drivers of internal transport vehicles earn. In addition, they get guilders (14s.) a day for subsistence

Cruising speed is generally about 20 m.p.h. The

journey of 435. miles from Amsterdam to Berlin usually occupies two days. A run from Holland. to Eastern Germany or Poland and back is completed its a week.

Although some goods carried by road just after the war have reverted to the railways, transport users have recognized the value of road vehicles for door-todoor delivery. It is not possible to quote statistics to show the increase in international road transport from all countries since the war, but some figures of

In examining these 'figures, it should be remembered that in 1938 there was little long-distance traffic by road, for most of the goods delivered outside Holland went. to the border regions of Germany. Whilst the total' traffic carried by all agencies in 1948 was only 37 per cent. of that of 1938, road transport carried almost as great a tonnage as before the war. In 1938, 1.27 per cent. of the total traffic carried went by road; 10 years later this percentage was increased to 3.12. Over the same period, the percentage of traffic consigned by rail increased from 7.13 to 14.38, whereas the proportion of goods conveyed by inland waterways fell from 91.6 per cent. to 82.5 per cent. In 1948, Dutch commercial vehicles made 37,000 trips and covered 8,700,000 miles on international services, carrying a wide range of manufactured goods and raw materials. These figures cover the operations of hauliers and ancillary users.

Statistics from other countries are not available, but it is known that Denmark is Holland's greatest competitor in international road transport. The Danes specialize almost entirely in carrying meat and fish, and in 1948, 2,400 trips were made across the Dutch borders by Danish vehicles.

There are not many international services by road from France, where the railways are especially favoured, or from Belgium, where one concern does most of thebusiness and the railways occupy a protected position. Czechoslovakia, in which transport is State-controlled, is doing some international work. Dutch Operators expect that the Germans will become substantial competitors when they have obtained greater freedom.

After the war, the favourable conditions for international road.. transport attracted many Dutch hauliers who had no previons experience in this field and lacked the necessary finance to engage in it efficiently. This influx of inexperienced entrants threatened not only to produce cut-throat competition between Dutch operators, but to discredit the good name of Dutch road transport abroad. Even now there are still about 500 Dutch companies engaged in international traffic, a number which is thought to be much too high.

In May, 1946, the Netherlands Government and the industry set up the Dutch International Road Transport Organization (N.I.W.0.). Its tasks were to promote co-operation, to act as an intermediary between the Government and the industry, and to perform various other duties given to it by the Government. It studies the possibilities of road transport to other countries, advises the Netherlands delegations to international conferences, handles questions concerning permits and petrol coupons for foreign countries, and negotiates with foreign Governments. It does not operate vehicles, nor does it act as a clearing house.

N.I.W.O. has a board of governors, which includes representatives of the Government, as well as of trade organizations, the railways, shipping interests, chambers of commerce and the Netherlands Bank. Since 1948, E.V.O., the ancillary users' organization, has not taken part in the work of N.I.W.O., but its members are stiU subjected to that body's rules.

One of the organization's chief tasks is to grant licences for international transport. Since September, 1946, it has been illegal to operate road transport across the Dutch borders without a licence. 'Those who seek them must satisfy N.I.W.O. of their professional capabilities, solvency and commercial trustworthiness. They also must show that they were engaged in similar traffic for at least three years between 1935 and 1940 and made an average of at least 30 trips a year. Licences may be granted for a maximum period of a year, or for an individual journey, and may be limited to the transport of certain goods. These regulations cover ancillary users, as well as the regular hauliers.

In 1948 2,284 licences were granted to hauliers and 3,151 to ancillary users. was also concerned in the grant of 4,068 transit visas, 1,858 entry visas and 2,790 vegetable visas by the Allied Authorities in Germany.

A uniform waybill in quintuplicate has, to be used and one copy sent to N,I.W.O. Maximum and minimum rates have been fixed by that organization, which also advises the Belgian Ministry of Transport on the allocation of Belgian permits to Dutch hauliers.

All hauliers are compelled by the N.I.W.O. to insure against all risks The organization does practically all paper work for operators, who have to pay for its serves. in' 1948 the charge was 0.19 cent per tonkilom. • Although much has already been done to remove restrictions on international road transport and to achieve uniformity in conditions, further simplification is needed, Several international organizations have helped to ease the burdens of operators, particularly the International Transport Committee of the Economic Commission for Europe and its sub-committees and working parties, and the International Road Union.

On January 1 this year two Customs conventions to unify formalities came. into force. They have been signedby most countries. Agreement has been reached on a third convention for goods carried by road, but technical difficulties have caused its introduction to be pastponed.

International agreements concerning the freedom of the road cover four groups, of transport. Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, France, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands. Norway, Austria, Portugal, Czechoslovakia, Turkey, Sweden, Switzerland and Western Germany have signed an agreement intended to permit the unrestricted transit of goods by road, Unfortunately, it does not guarantee full freedom, as there are some differences in interpretation For instance, disputes have arisen between the Netherlands and Belgium because Belgium's conception ot freedom of transport means free passage of the goods and not of the vehicle. At the beginning of the year. . the Belgians stopped Dutch vehicles carrying vegetables and fish to France and insisted on transferring the loads to Belgian lorries or railway trucks.

Under another agreement, Denmark, Great Britain, Hungary, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Turkey, . Sweden, Switzerland and Western Germany have consented to unrestricted international goods traffic by road by foreign vehicles other than in transit. The omission of Belgium and France from the signatories is notable, but is not strange, because in both countries road transport is subordinated to the State-owned railways. Neither Government will let foreign hauliers compete freely with the .national railways. Belgium is allocating a limited number of permits to foreign hauliers, whereas France generally grants permits for traffic only to border regions. The French authorities are, however, most co-operative.

Third agreement concerns international touring by road, and the fourth provides for the liberal issue of permits for all international road passenger vehicles. especially those used. for touring not covered in the other agreement. Only Norway and Portugal have abstained from signing.

Current legal problems, iti solving which much headway has been made, concern civil liability and obligatory insurance, as well as the production of a new uniform waybill. The sub-committee on road transport has agreed with the suggestion made by a working party on legal questions that in each country the insurance companies should set up a central bureau to take over liabilities for all claims resulting from accidents abroad (civil liabilities) which are covered by insurance. Every insured person would be provided with an insurance ticket, on the inter-Scandinavian system.

After the war hauliers became discontented with the role that their industry was playing in several international organizations, especially the International Road Union. In November, 1948, they set up a panel of experts (Comite d'Experts pour le Transport Routier Professionnel International, known as C.E.T.R.I.) to increase the influence of the road haulage industry in international affairs. C.E.T.R.I. forms a group in the I.R.U., and in January of this year pressed for the granting to hauliers of two seats on the executive, as have ancillary users and road passenger transport operators.

What is the future of international ioad transport? In the past year or two, commercial-v hicle operators have lost to the railways some of thei gains, for the railways have become better-equipped and in some cases there is a tendency to reduce rail gods rates. The tariffs for the international A and B classes of goods are still profitable for hauliers, but goods in the C class an be carried remuneratively only if an adequate return toad can be obtained.

International road transport operators have a large any of them . So can the ntainer is now

fleet of good, modern vehicles, ii refrigerated, and can meet all demand railways, especially as the use of the c being developed.

International road transport operators have a large any of them . So can the ntainer is now

fleet of good, modern vehicles, ii refrigerated, and can meet all demand railways, especially as the use of the c being developed.

Some experts think that soon there will be severe competition between the railways and road operators. Others, however, point to the good relations existing between the Netherlands Railways and Dutch international hauliers, some of the largest of whom, including A.T.O.-Van Gend and Loos, are co-operating in a pool.

Most experts agree at least that there should be co-ordination of road and rail transport on an international level, with an international convention on tariffs. Road transport, they say, should also be co-ordinated voluntarily, with a semi-Government body. to negotiate with other countries. There should be a central bureau to act as a central forwarding agent, thus ensuring return loads.

-Above all, it is necessary that all countries should combine to grant freedom to road transport to work without restriction. It has proved its value and has a bright future so long as unfair competition is not sponsored by Governments that prefer the railways..

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