The highlighted sentence is the key point. Which is also where our different thinking come from. Yes, combined EU will be in the same game park as the other continental sized countries that I mentioned. My thought is exactly that EU is NOT really combined yet as much as the others.Combined, the EU territories have more than enough size and scale to make rail a suitable alternative to road.
To say trucks are little different then trains with individual drive carriages is to miss the point of the economy of scale savings involved. Each train carriage can carry many times what could be carried in a road capable truck. By that logic, you can use a dozen family cars to transport the goods in 1 truck.
Sure you can do that, and in some instances, that could even make more commercial and economic sense. But for long haul transport, bulk carriage offers significant advantages.
You cut down on the labour requirements, needing only 1 train driver instead of dozens of truck drivers; fuel costs, pollution and congestion are all eased, and transport times cut.
I think there is great potential for this sort of rail technology revolution with China's OROB initiative. Because it's a clean slate programme, covering vast distances, which falls under the control of a single lead country.
Once set up and the enormous benefits demonstrated, I believe the concept and technology could easily be adopted back home in China, and then become the new gold standard for the future of world freight rail.
If you go to a local shop in Europe, you will see products mostly from neighboring countries, Scandinavia being a cluster, Germany, Austria, Czech being another cluster, in Greece one see mostly things from Italy and France or maybe Spain. My feeling is that for the moment and in the near future, this situation remains, that translates to the longest non-stop transportation within EU is much shorter than in China or US, less than half. That is where I think the difference of truck and train is made, let alone China has OBOR, EU doesn't. Example is Hebei's apple to Beijing is served better by a lorry, while Shenzhen's air-conditioner is better to travel to Urumqi (or further to Astana) by train.
I am not saying EU will never reach the kind of close integration (therefor warrant a more economical advantage by cargo train), but it is just not there yet. So this kind of truck tech has a good chance in Europe, but would be less attractive as you said to China's domestic and OBOR.