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On a long journey in a gigaliner: Not wider, higher or heavier

Dino Eisele
On a long journey in the Gigaliner
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D he first surprise comes less than 100 meters after the factory gate of the forwarding company Ansorge in Biessenhofen, Bavaria: the 25.25-meter-long truck effortlessly masters the roundabout in front of the front door in the direction of B 12. Driver Jürgen Bannasch is amused by the stowage of his passenger. 'Anyone who worries about how we will get through roundabouts has not yet seen the thing work,' he says.

The 'thing' is a so-called dolly - two axles with a drawbar and a fifth wheel make the swap body truck, as it is called in the industry jargon, amazingly agile. As every day, Bannasch is on his way to Munich, which takes him via the B 12, A 96, A 99 and A 94 to the 'Deutsche Umschlagsgesellschaft Schiene Straße' - DUSS for short - in Riem. Like his colleague Thomas Hanich, who follows in a second Maxi truck, he has bathtubs, shower trays, washbasins and other sanitary ceramics on board. They are loaded onto freight trains in combined transport in Munich and sent on their way to Cologne. In the DUSS, they piggyback containers with empties for the return journey - where three normal 16.50 meter trucks would otherwise have to drive, two long versions are sufficient thanks to the larger loading volume.

The discovery of slowness

The discovery of slowness takes place in the driver's cab from a higher level: Cars, vans and trucks quickly overtake the 420 hp on the B 12 strong Scania R 420, which strictly adheres to Tempo 60. Correct behavior on the road is always a priority at Ansorge. 'Some other truck drivers are not so lucky,' says Bannasch, who has been driving for the Allgäu freight forwarder for almost 30 years. Many colleagues felt annoyed by the meticulously maintained top speed. 'They drive faster and overtake because time is on their necks.'

Nevertheless, in the three months in which he drives 260 kilometers to Munich and back every day in the XXL truck, there is none precarious situation given - neither with truck nor with car drivers. 'Nobody misjudged when overtaking and had to let themselves fall back.' In any case, the main road is only released for long trucks in the area towards Autobahn 96, where the so-called two-plus-one guidance allows low-risk overtaking. A section of the B 12 further south that has not yet been properly developed is taboo for them.

Persevering on the autobahn

' We are only allowed to drive on specific routes approved by the Federal Highway Research Institute, 'reports the 52-year-old Bannasch Before starting the journey, the driver also checks whether there are traffic disruptions on the route - for example due to accidents. 'We are not allowed to switch to other roads.' In the worst case scenario, if the motorway is completely closed, one has to wait until it is cleared, while other traffic is diverted beforehand 'I also have to be very careful not to drive an alternative route out of habit when there is traffic jams.' That was the biggest change for him when switching to the long truck.

There is a lot to marvel at in the driver's cab - about six exterior mirrors in total. 'If they are all set correctly, there is no longer a blind spot,' says Bannasch. And there is also the third eye, as he calls it: a camera in the rear always provides an exact image about the traffic behind the vehicle. 'That helps both on the country road and when entering the autobahn when you can see what is coming from behind and at what speed,' he says. The red Scania is also equipped with all modern driver assistance systems: from adaptive cruise control and emergency braking systems to lane assistants.

There is an absolute no overtaking rule for gigaliners

The 25-meter truck swims at speed on the motorway 80 with like a short one - cars and trucks pull past continuously to the left. Bannasch always brakes when another truck tries to pull into the autobahn in front of him. Because even if the middle lane were free, he must not pull out to make it easier for his colleague to thread. 'For us there is an absolute no-overtaking ban', the 52-year-old cites as the reason. Which can lead to strange situations.

A BMW X5 driver at the Münchner Ring was apparently so impressed by the long vehicle that he wanted to take a second look after the overtaking maneuver. 'The BMW driver sat down in front of me, slowed down and gave me signs that I should overtake him,' recalls Barrasch. Unaware of the facts, he probably wanted to make life easier for him, the truck driver. 'At some point he turned off with a friendly wave.'

An overtaking log truck comes in handy for Bannasch to put the facts right: 'They are normally 27 meters long, and with a special permit even over 30 meters.' And it is not uncommon for 55 tons to lie on the loading platform. 'We are not wider, not higher and not heavier than other trucks,' he says. 'With our 25.25 meters we're only longer.' He doesn't understand all the resistance. After that day in the passenger seat, that doesn't really make sense to me either.

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