by Martin Phippard


In many ways legislation governing the operation of heavy trucks in Sweden is very similar to that in Canada. Maximum gross weights are limited to 60-tonnes and overall length for most combinations to 24-metres. However, the type of trucks operated is very different with most Swedish combinations comprising a rigid three-axle cabover coupled to a 12.8-metre (42-foot) full drawbar trailer.

There are two almost unbelievable aspects of Sweden’s road transport history that are worth mentioning. The first is that until 1967 all traffic drove on the left side of the road and one day in September of that year, changed to driving on the right as in the rest of mainland Europe. Second, until 1968 there was NO legislation governing truck operation, so operators simply hauled as much as their trucks could carry. Consequently the length of some combinations reached out as far as 35-metres (115-feet) and weights were often in the region of 70-tonnes despite the relatively modest power outputs of truck engines in that period.

Although there was obviously no legislative reason to operate a B-Train combination, it appears that numerous examples were put into service by Swedish truck operators for no other reason than the configuration made good sense in terms of vehicle stability and ease of operation. For example truck manufacturer, Volvo, operated B-Train platform trailer combinations capable of carrying four 20-foot containers behind one of its cabover tractors and there were several similar configurations in use at the same time.

Since 1968 few Swedish operators have elected to use B-Trains, most staying with the more traditional truck-trailer set up. In fact legislation in Sweden until the 1986 actively discouraged the use of any twin-trailer combinations by restricting their maximum speed to 40-kph (25-mph)! However, stability tests using a variety of twin-trailer outfits finally convinced the Swedish Department of Transport that B-Trains were at least as safe as truck-trailers and consequently a few have entered in recent years, most being designed to carry containers. Other interesting examples include the “paper trains” used to haul rolls of paper from the huge mill in Gruven to the inland port of Karlstad and a skeletal outfit configured to haul three demountable milk tanks from collection areas to large processing plants. More recently a Scania-hauled B-Train capable of hauling two 13.6-metre (46-foot) containers operates a regular service between the cities of Gothenburg and Stockholm, under special dispensation of course. In some respects it appears that the halcyon days prior to 1968 are being relived.

Volvo dual-purpose Platypus outfit Container Outfit Twin 45-footers behind Scania 4 x 2 tractor
OMT demount milk tanker with three demount tanks
Scania 144, 530 with a Leci Trailer and a ordinary semitralier after... 25,25 m.. I drive from Sweden to Norway. Photos by Jim Gullberg from Sweden

These photos were added on September 13, 2008

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