‘Truckload of trouble’

By Chris Thomson | posted on October 4, 2018

A PUSH by grain exporter CBH to introduce 42-metre triple road trains to South Coast Highway between Albany and Jacup has been slammed by the City’s Deputy Mayor.

“I am violently opposed to the idea,” Greg Stocks said in a candid interview with The Weekender.

“Until South Coast Highway is upgraded properly, if you’ve ever driven to Jerramungup behind a B-double, you add another five-and-a-half metres to it, nobody’s ever going to get past these things.

“You put a bigger vehicle and more weight on the road-base of South Coast Highway, which is probably nearly 60 years old, you start putting bigger, stronger, heavier, longer vehicles on those roads, it’s gonna tear ‘em up.”

Councillor Stocks said he learned of the CBH application during a recent harvest sundowner at the Wellstead CRC.

“It was a grain grower who said: ‘The triple [trailer] means cheaper freight for me, but I absolutely don’t want it, it’s just not safe enough, so do something about it’,” he explained.

“No-one wants it there, so that’s a farming community and the people who will supposedly benefit from it saying: ‘Do what we can to stop it’.”

A Main Roads spokesperson said CBH’s planned 42m A-triple road trains were at the early stages of a rigorous approval process.

“This process involves the vehicles being specifically designed, constructed and certified to meet stringent safety performance standards,” the spokesperson said.

“The … standards are higher than those of conventional 36.5m road trains which are already operating on South Coast Highway.”

South Coast Highway is already an approved route for three-trailer 36.5m B-triple and two-trailer 36.5m B-double road trains.

The CBH application for the 42m A-triples covers the 215km stretch of highway from Albany through Manypeaks, Boxwood Hill, Gairdner and Jerramungup to Jacup.

The spokesperson said the highway from Albany to Esperance had for the past three years been approved for the 42m trucks and a small number of A-triples were already operating under that approval.

“There are no specific [highway] upgrades planned as a result of [CBH’s] recent application,” the spokesperson said.

“The State Government has previously approved $30 million over the period 2018 to 2022 for Main Roads to improve a number of sections of South Coast Highway between Albany and Jerramungup.

“The improvements include widening sections of the road, reconstructing sections of pavement and construction of additional passing lanes.”

The spokesperson said A-triples “are considered to be safer than conventional road trains, as they are assessed on their safety performance, as opposed to prescriptive dimension limits”.

“While they are slightly longer than conventional road trains (i.e. 5.5m in this case) they are specifically designed to meet stringent safety standards and are equipped with additional safety features, including electronic braking systems with rollover stability systems and are monitored via in-vehicle telematics systems to ensure compliance with route and speed requirements,” the spokesperson said.

“If CBH is able to develop a suitable design for the … 42m … triples and it is economically viable then Main Roads will work with CBH to en- able their proposal to be discussed in more detail with stakeholders.”

A CBH spokesperson said if the A-triples were approved, the number of grain trucks on the highway would be reduced, with several replaced by the newer, safer ones.

“As the WA grain industry has not previously investigated [these] truck operations, CBH is in the engineering design phase,” the spokesperson added.

“As the application progresses, we will keep key stakeholders informed.”

The spokesperson declined to reveal how many A-triples CBH plans to run along the highway.

An Austroads report published in 2014 found that if more freight were carried by A-triples, there would be significantly fewer truck crashes.