$280k PBS trial pays off for Queensland

Queensland Government approves PBS route from Toowoomba to Port of Brisbane after $280,000 trial

By Brad Gardner | August 19, 2010

A route capable supporting 30 metre trucks from Toowoomba west of Brisbane to the Port of Brisbane has been approved following a lengthy and expensive trial.

The Queensland Government has granted permission for higher productivity vehicles to begin carrying goods on a 154km route after spending $280,000 on a 10 month trial to assess its suitability.

Queensland has approved the route "in principle" for vehicles that gain performance based standards (PBS) certification.

PBS allows custom-made vehicles – such as heavier or longer trucks – access to the road network in return for meeting stringent safety and design standards relating to braking, acceleration, stability and road effects.

In an information bulletin released today, the Government anticipates the trucking industry will benefit from the ability to use 30 metre vehicles over the standard 26 metre B-double.

"This can result in halving the number of truck trips for a given freight task, particularly for containerised loads," the bulletin reads.

"This leads to reduced congestion, reduced greenhouse emissions, improved road safety outcomes and more efficient logistics chains."

Vehicles will need to be fitted with the Intelligent Access Program (IAP) monitoring scheme to ensure they do not stray on restricted routes.

Earlier this year, Transport and Main Roads Director General David Stewart cited the trial as an example of the work that needed to be done to assess a route for PBS.

Bridge assessments alone cost $140,000. Consultancy firm ARRB and government officers compiled road information and conducted desktop assessments during the trial.

"This project is a good case study on the realities for jurisdictions undertaking large scale route assessments and highlights the effort required to assess a route for PBS vehicles on dimensional aspects only," Stewart says.

"It should also be noted that the bridge assessments were conducted on a vehicle with specific axle spacings and may not be suitable for other vehicles that have different axle spacings," Stewart says.

Those applying for access will be subjected to individual bridge assessments.

Because of the cost of the trial, Stewart cautioned against any changes to the PBS scheme that shifted the cost burden onto the industry.

He says a user pay system might limit the adoption of PBS by the industry.

Stewart made the comments in response to a proposal by the National Transport Commission to reform PBS to encourage trucking operators to adopt the scheme.

It wants the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to take over the running of PBS once it begins operating in 2013.

Trucking operators currently need to deal with state road agencies and local governments to negotiate access conditions. Under the NTC’s proposal operators will go to the regulator, which will then be responsible for dealing with the different parties.

According to the NTC, this will reduce the administrative burden on the trucking industry and lead to greater certainty of access. It claims sections of the industry are fed up with the current system because they are being denied access or being forced to meet onerous restrictions.

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